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Though Americans still have almost 3x as many firearms as Canadians per capita. In the US, 60% of the murders are committed with a gun, in Canada it drops to 32%,

Murder is murder either way...

Hell more Americans have been killed by guns in the US since 1968 than have died in all wars combined.

That stat sounds like it would be true for Canada too. Says a lot more about the (lack of) wars since 1968 than anything else.

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Guest Derek L

.That stat sounds like it would be true for Canada too. Says a lot more about the (lack of) wars since 1968 than anything else.

It also is inflated by the inclusion of suicides, which in the States, represents that majority of "gun deaths".

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It also is inflated by the inclusion of suicides, which in the States, represents that majority of "gun deaths".

Yep...and that would be more mental health issues. Gee...what a concept. The 'funny' part is that all the gang banger killings are considered to be quite sane in comparison.

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Why is that unfortunate? China is the precise example of a country where a dictator butchered millions of his own people, people that were defenseless against such tyranny. China is the place people point to (along with Russia and Germany) when they make the whole argument of "if only people had guns to oppose a tyrannical government!".

Private gun ownership was not prohibited in Germany during Hitler's reign; in fact, gun ownership was made easier. Gun laws were in place prior to Hitler's regime but were weakened and partially removed when he gained power. Hitler ended the need to register and obtain a permit for long guns and also lowered the minimum age to 18 from 20.

In 1945 Eisenhower ordered the confiscation of all private German firearms. Tens of thousands of German pistols were looted by GIs and brought back to the US.

Like everything else Hitler did strip Jews of their weapons in 38 and sadly this was mostly supported by the German population.

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Guest Derek L

Private gun ownership was not prohibited in Germany during Hitler's reign; in fact, gun ownership was made easier. Gun laws were in place prior to Hitler's regime but were weakened and partially removed when he gained power. Hitler ended the need to register and obtain a permit for long guns and also lowered the minimum age to 18 from 20.

In 1945 Eisenhower ordered the confiscation of all private German firearms. Tens of thousands of German pistols were looted by GIs and brought back to the US.

Like everything else Hitler did strip Jews of their weapons in 38 and sadly this was mostly supported by the German population.

Ownership was made easier for members of the Nazi Party.........Not the German population as a whole.

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Guest Derek L

Yep...and that would be more mental health issues. Gee...what a concept. The 'funny' part is that all the gang banger killings are considered to be quite sane in comparison.

Imagine that eh? And Japan has a higher suicide rate, well there is next to no private ownership of firearms...........Yet the Japanese have no problem being one of the worlds largest firearms private producers.........Same with the Chinese.

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That stat sounds like it would be true for Canada too. Says a lot more about the (lack of) wars since 1968 than anything else.

The gun death stat is from 68 on, but the war death stat is for every American war in history.

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Ownership was made easier for members of the Nazi Party.........Not the German population as a whole.

No it was made easier for all German citizens except for Jews.

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Thanks for that explanation, WIP.

You're welcome! But, I should add that the fundamentalist writers rarely criticize the humanist faith in progress because they share that faith....at least when it comes to the advantages offered by technological progress. They are trying to separate the parts they want from science (mostly the technological applications), from the parts that challenge their religious beliefs. In reality, the only aspect of materialism that most Christian fundamentalists reject is the denial of God and a supernatural world. The typical Christian fundamentalist (in North America at least) has become every bit as materialistic, and likely just as hedonistic, as any atheist or lapsed believer is today.

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I am prepared to accept that a multifaceted solution based on the best evidence to a complex problem may or may not involve changes to gun control legislation, and that the solution devised may include aspects that challenge beliefs I hold. Pinker's book, by the way, both challenges many long held Conservative and Liberal views about violence, crime and punishment. It also upholds many long held Conservative and Liberal views about violence, crime and punishment. He trampled several views I held, and under the weight of the evidence I gladly accepted the death of sacred cows.

You seem unprepared to accept that a multifaceted solution based on the best evidence to a complex problem might involve changes to gun control legislation, or for that matter, that the solution may involve anything that challenged your worldview.

I'm not buying! Evolutionary psychology is more of a pseudoscience than a real science to begin with....mostly they are taking facts of modern day culture and claiming that our evolution makes it inevitable. And Pinker's book has been challenged from a number of sources as poor scholarship, both in building his case of how violent and primal we used to be, and how civilized and peaceful we are now.

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And a helluva lot more Americans have been killed in motor vehicle accidents than that, but we still drive cars. As for the guns, they are the tools of liberty, sport, hunting, robbery, homicide, and suicide. Also came in handy when getting rid of you guys and your monarchy.

Actually annual US fatalities involving guns and motor vehicles are at almost the same level now. Guns deaths are expected to surpass auto deaths in 2 years. http://www.bloomberg...es-by-2015.html

I think you know the standard automobile vs gun line is a poor argument. Automobiles are obviously more useful to society than weapons and are much safer on a per use basis than firearms. Society limits and prohibits the use of items with risks that outweigh the rewards. Like lawn darts, asbestos and many chemicals, I think that most guns should be prohibited. In my opinion, hunting rifles and shotguns are acceptable with a permit and should be registered. However, no private citizen should own automatic weapons, military assault weapons or even hand guns in most cases.

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Typical critical response to Pinker's book. Zero evidence or statistics to refute his claims that violence has been dramatically falling for a couple hundred years.

Zero evidence??? First, I would have thought that before we accept a grandiose claim, the person presenting it has to offer overwhelming evidence......extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence....catch the drift?

First we hear from Gray, one of the strongest anti-enlightenment philosophers on the planet complaining that Pinker is an advocate of enlightenment thinking, but some enlightenment thinkers used political violence. Anything to counter Pinker's actual facts...you know about violence levels? No, too busy poisoning the well.

Facts is a pretty loose term when it is taken from historical analysis and meta-analysis of violence statistics from the dawn of our species to the modern era. Gray's point is that Pinker has been selective in who gets included, and who's not on the guest list of his enlightenment club, and I think he has a good point there! I used to take this stuff as a given until I was reading more from Christopher Hitchens and starting to wonder about his ethnocentric use of "enlightenment values" and wondering if these guys are trying to create the secular equivalent to a religion with their reverence for the enlightenment of their imaginations.

Next we hear that Pinker is a libertarian and an evolutionary psychologist. Well that must prove his statistics and evidence is wrong right? No logical fallacy there.

I've listed reasons why I'm dubious about evolutionary psychology in general, and if guys like Pinker and Shermer....I lumped him in with Pinker because he shares the same libertarian ideology. Maybe it's the comfortable bubble these guys live in in academia, otherwise they would might have reconsidered their "faith" in the market. Shermer also used to be a climate change denier until a few years ago, but he doesn't seem able to reassess the stuff he wrote about the wonders of the market, even as market forces have put civilization at the edge of a cliff today! And that's my main critique of Pinker's hopeful vision -- at best, it's looking in the rearview mirror of history because our future is going to be dystopian whichever way you slice it.

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Guns are a problem in the US, but not the only problem.

The Swiss have low murder rates despite high per capita (though still 50% less than the US) gun ownership. IMO, this anomaly is made possible by their socialist, all for one attitude, kick ass healthcare and respect for weapons through military training. I don't think that situation could be replicated in Canada or the US.

The US has more poverty, more untreated mental health issues and more incidents of violence than most developed nations. I can only speculate on the cause, but it seems to me that a general distaste for the social programs that benefit the sick, weak and poor are at the root. In a situation like this instant access to weapons is a problem. In my opinion, increased social support coupled with more sensible gun laws outlawing automatics and requiring waiting periods, registration and background checks is the way to go.

That being said, even if there was support for limited gun control, removing the massive quantity of weapons will take a hell of a long time. I'm in Detroit a fair amount and I often don't feel safe there. If I felt the need to own a gun for safety, even though I support the removal of weapons, I wouldn't want to give up mine first.

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Actually annual US fatalities involving guns and motor vehicles are at almost the same level now. Guns deaths are expected to surpass auto deaths in 2 years. http://www.bloomberg...es-by-2015.html

Not when it comes to murder or murder rate.

I think you know the standard automobile vs gun line is a poor argument. Automobiles are obviously more useful to society than weapons and are much safer on a per use basis than firearms. Society limits and prohibits the use of items with risks that outweigh the rewards.

Which is exactly the point of bringing up motor vehicle deaths. The U.S. accepts such risks (death and injury) for both guns and transportation while striving for safer use. Federal, state, and local governments already regulate motor vehicle ownership and operation on public roads to a degree that it cannot pursue with guns because of constitutional limits.

Like lawn darts, asbestos and many chemicals, I think that most guns should be prohibited. In my opinion, hunting rifles and shotguns are acceptable with a permit and should be registered. However, no private citizen should own automatic weapons, military assault weapons or even hand guns in most cases.

That's fine, but such ideas would not survive a court challenge in the United States. Automatic and "military assault" weapons are already highly regulated by a permitting/license process.

The US has more poverty, more untreated mental health issues and more incidents of violence than most developed nations.

If you mean by volume....of course....there are 315,000,000 people plus many more illegal aliens. "Most developed nations" is a weasel words cop-out that ignores significant social issues in many nations, including Canada.

I can only speculate on the cause, but it seems to me that a general distaste for the social programs that benefit the sick, weak and poor are at the root. In a situation like this instant access to weapons is a problem. In my opinion, increased social support coupled with more sensible gun laws outlawing automatics and requiring waiting periods, registration and background checks is the way to go.

Such mechanisms are already in place, yet a determined criminal or mentally ill person can still obtain and use such weapons, and there is nothing that can stop that.

That being said, even if there was support for limited gun control, removing the massive quantity of weapons will take a hell of a long time. I'm in Detroit a fair amount and I often don't feel safe there. If I felt the need to own a gun for safety, even though I support the removal of weapons, I wouldn't want to give up mine first.

Welcome to the world that limousine liberals do not have to live in. Some people don't feel safe in Winnipeg either, but it doesn't mean Americans think that guns should be taken away in Canada.

Edited by bush_cheney2004

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Guns are a problem in the US, but not the only problem.

The Swiss have low murder rates despite high per capita (though still 50% less than the US) gun ownership. IMO, this anomaly is made possible by their socialist, all for one attitude, kick ass healthcare and respect for weapons through military training. I don't think that situation could be replicated in Canada or the US.

I would agree, since small cohesive societies don't provide much of a model to judge how a larger, more fractious society will function under similar circumstances. If I recall, the Swiss are practicing something closer to that 2nd Amendment principle of "a well regulated militia" than the Americans do today, where every nut with no training and no idea how to fire a gun can go out and buy one. Recent Supreme Court decisions (thanks to the new rightwingers on the Court) have interpreted the 2nd Amendment as an individual right (for the first time apparently) and are even challenging individual cities like New York and Washington D.C. who want to restrict handguns within their municipalities.

Any U.S. rightwingers and supporters of this sort of freewheeling access to guns may want to google "The Whiskey Rebellion" and observe how George Washington called up a "well regulated militia" to put down a tax revolt in western Pennsylvania.....just a little factoid that Alex Jones fans should know about before they get carried away thinking they are going to use their guns to fight against federal forces!

The US has more poverty, more untreated mental health issues and more incidents of violence than most developed nations. I can only speculate on the cause, but it seems to me that a general distaste for the social programs that benefit the sick, weak and poor are at the root. In a situation like this instant access to weapons is a problem. In my opinion, increased social support coupled with more sensible gun laws outlawing automatics and requiring waiting periods, registration and background checks is the way to go.

The situation in the U.S. is getting worse all the time. Free and easy access to guns may be a luxury that the U.S. can't afford anymore.

That being said, even if there was support for limited gun control, removing the massive quantity of weapons will take a hell of a long time. I'm in Detroit a fair amount and I often don't feel safe there. If I felt the need to own a gun for safety, even though I support the removal of weapons, I wouldn't want to give up mine first.

Yep. Leaving Detroit might be an easier option! I have to wonder though...how safe is it having a gun when everyone around you is also carrying a gun?

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...The situation in the U.S. is getting worse all the time. Free and easy access to guns may be a luxury that the U.S. can't afford anymore.

Patently false.....the violent crime rate is declining in the U.S.:

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2012/0109/US-crime-rate-at-lowest-point-in-decades.-Why-America-is-safer-now?nav=504291-csm_article-promoLink

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Guest Derek L

No it was made easier for all German citizens except for Jews.

No only Nazi Party members were exempt from “gun control”………Where your myth stems from is that post WW I German Governments banned the possession of firearms entirely, a law that was totally unenforceable……….The Nazis allowed gun ownership, for Germans in good standing, to own rifles and shotguns for hunting (One of Hermann Goering’s many duties was also the head of German hunting society)……Their gun laws then, bare a striking resemblance to current gun laws, and what many propose to emulate in the United States…………..Of course, the Nazis weren’t burdened with due process well enforcing their laws………….

So you wish to implement Nazi like gun control………That should be an easy sell rolleyes.gif

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.how safe is it having a gun when everyone around you is also carrying a gun?

Safer than not having one. That's part of the problem, guns have reached critical mass to some degree in the US, where you'd have to be a fool not to have one yourself, living in certain places. It won't help you much if the other guy draws down on you first, but at least if he misses you can fire back. Seems that the really smart ones would wear body armor as well as strap on a gun.

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You know what they say about bringing a knife to a gun fight...

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No only Nazi Party members were exempt from “gun control”………Where your myth stems from is that post WW I German Governments banned the possession of firearms entirely, a law that was totally unenforceable……….The Nazis allowed gun ownership, for Germans in good standing, to own rifles and shotguns for hunting (One of Hermann Goering’s many duties was also the head of German hunting society)……Their gun laws then, bare a striking resemblance to current gun laws, and what many propose to emulate in the United States…………..Of course, the Nazis weren’t burdened with due process well enforcing their laws………….

The complete ban predated Hitler as a result of the treaty of Versailles. Hitler loosened regulation. All Germans were able to own rifles and long guns without a permit. Germans with a permit could acquire handguns. Government officials, Nazi party members, German Reichsbahn Railway employees and hunters did not require a permit.

The 1938 revisions completely deregulated the acquisition and transfer of rifles and shotguns, as well as ammunition. The groups of people who were exempt from the acquisition permit requirement expanded. Holders of annual hunting permits, government workers, and NSDAP party members were no longer subject to gun ownership restrictions. Prior to the 1938 law, only officials of the central government, the states, and employees of the German Reichsbahn Railways were exempted. The age at which persons could own guns was lowered from 20 to 18. The firearms carry permit was valid for three years instead of one year.

Of course, in typical Hitler style, Jews were forbidden from the manufacturing or dealing of firearms and ammunition.

So, are pro-gun proponents in the United States right to compare gun control efforts to Hitler? No. The reality is that their views more align with Hitler policies (except that anti-Jewish part!) of de-regulation.

Edited by Mighty AC

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Zero evidence??? First, I would have thought that before we accept a grandiose claim, the person presenting it has to offer overwhelming evidence......extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence....catch the drift?

First of all Pinker's claims are not extraordinary, and to state that is a complete misunderstanding of what Laplace and Sagan were referring to when they made the claim.

Second, Pinker did provide the evidence. It is in the 800+ book that you haven't bothered to read. You can't ignore the evidence while claiming it has not been provided.

Third, the opposing side has said that Pinker is wrong, but has not provided evidence to support their position. When people like Ryan claim that Pinker has used the most violent hunter/gatherer societies, that doesn't refute Pinker's claim that members of hunter/gatherer societies were more likely to die by violent means than people in western societies are today. What would refute Pinker's claim is showing evidence of hunter/gatherer societies where members were not more likely to die to die by violent means than people in western societies are today. Ryan hasn't provided any evidence to support the inference he is making.

Facts is a pretty loose term when it is taken from historical analysis and meta-analysis of violence statistics from the dawn of our species to the modern era. Gray's point is that Pinker has been selective in who gets included, and who's not on the guest list of his enlightenment club, and I think he has a good point there! I used to take this stuff as a given until I was reading more from Christopher Hitchens and starting to wonder about his ethnocentric use of "enlightenment values" and wondering if these guys are trying to create the secular equivalent to a religion with their reverence for the enlightenment of their imaginations.

Gray's point is thoroughly meaningless. Demanding that Pinker include every person Gray feels was influential in terms of the enlightenment has nothing to do with Pinker's book, and is a level of inanity so stupid only Gray could think it up. Incidentally, despite Gray chastising Pinker for not talking about Marx, Bakunin and Lenin as enlightenment figures (as he considers them all to be undeniably part of enlightenment philosophy), Israel in his 4 volumes and 4000 pages about the enlightenment fails to mention 2 of them at all, and the 3rd only a couple times. Despite widely being considered the preeminent modern scholar on the enlightenment he sees no reason to include them. Gray, as usual, simply has no idea what he is talking about, and does the only thing he is good at: poisoning the well through baffle-gab.

I've listed reasons why I'm dubious about evolutionary psychology in general, and if guys like Pinker and Shermer....I lumped him in with Pinker because he shares the same libertarian ideology. Maybe it's the comfortable bubble these guys live in in academia, otherwise they would might have reconsidered their "faith" in the market. Shermer also used to be a climate change denier until a few years ago, but he doesn't seem able to reassess the stuff he wrote about the wonders of the market, even as market forces have put civilization at the edge of a cliff today! And that's my main critique of Pinker's hopeful vision -- at best, it's looking in the rearview mirror of history because our future is going to be dystopian whichever way you slice it.

Pinker is a supporter of evolutionary psychology. That has nothing to do with the facts that Pinker provided supporting a decline in violence. To dismiss Pinker's arguments about the decline of violence because he holds other views that you disagree with is a pure logical fallacy. As is your further poisoning the well by doing the same thing because you claim that Pinker is a libertarian. The latter is made worse by the reality that Pinker is not a libertarian, and associating his economic views with Shermer (who is a libertarian) signifies a lack of exposure to his work, and instead a reliance of reviews by Herman and Snyder, both of who are biased by their own political ideologies.

Edited by Wayward Son

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Guest Derek L

The complete ban predated Hitler as a result of the treaty of Versailles. Hitler loosened regulation. All Germans were able to own rifles and long guns without a permit. Germans with a permit could acquire handguns. Government officials, Nazi party members, German Reichsbahn Railway employees and hunters did not require a permit.

The 1938 revisions completely deregulated the acquisition and transfer of rifles and shotguns, as well as ammunition. The groups of people who were exempt from the acquisition permit requirement expanded. Holders of annual hunting permits, government workers, and NSDAP party members were no longer subject to gun ownership restrictions. Prior to the 1938 law, only officials of the central government, the states, and employees of the German Reichsbahn Railways were exempted. The age at which persons could own guns was lowered from 20 to 18. The firearms carry permit was valid for three years instead of one year.

Of course, in typical Hitler style, Jews were forbidden from the manufacturing or dealing of firearms and ammunition.

So, are pro-gun proponents in the United States right to compare gun control efforts to Hitler? No. The reality is that their views more align with Hitler policies (except that anti-Jewish part!) of de-regulation.

Did you read your quoted section?

Holders of annual hunting permits, government workers, and NSDAP party members were no longer subject to gun ownership restrictions.

That does not read "all Germans". rolleyes.gif

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The original poster asked what motivates people to kill in the style of what happened in Columbine. The two killers both liked Marylin Manson. Manson opined that they were the extreme example of disenfranchised youth who reject our society as artificial, commercial, designed to enslave people.

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First of all Pinker's claims are not extraordinary, and to state that is a complete misunderstanding of what Laplace and Sagan were referring to when they made the claim.

Claiming you have evidence that since recorded history violence is on general declining trend IS an extraordinary claim! What else would you call it? Point is that if you claim to have proof for a new theory, you better have overwhelming proof or go home. And Pinker seems to have enough proof to convince some, but as time goes on and the claim is given greater scrutiny, there seem to be many critics who can poke a lot of holes in that theory.

Second, Pinker did provide the evidence. It is in the 800+ book that you haven't bothered to read. You can't ignore the evidence while claiming it has not been provided.

Yeah, I got all the time in the world to read every goddamned book with 800 pages! I've heard interviews and read articles that Pinker has written before and after this book, so I have some exposure to his thinking on the subject of human behaviour.

Third, the opposing side has said that Pinker is wrong, but has not provided evidence to support their position.

Again, you are asking others to prove a negative. Many of the critics of Pinker's book are critics of evolutionary psychology in general....considering it's approach to be a soft science because of the tendency to take present day facts of human behaviour and jump to conclusions that the way things are now are the way things ought to be. But, if Pinker or other evolutionary psychologists have the goods, they should be able to convince others outside of their circle of likeminded humanists.

When people like Ryan claim that Pinker has used the most violent hunter/gatherer societies, that doesn't refute Pinker's claim that members of hunter/gatherer societies were more likely to die by violent means than people in western societies are today.

I heard Christopher Ryan doing an interview promoting his book: Sex At Dawn, referring to the anthropology fieldwork he did earlier in his career, make the point that he did not feel that the research he was involved with in the study of the few remaining hunter/gatherer tribes could give him or any other anthropologist a complete understanding of how the ancient hunter/gatherer societies of Pleistocene Era functioned; because they were living under much different conditions than modern tribes who were exposed to "civilization" and facing encroachment on their territories for many centuries from growing agricultural communities cutting off their land and forcing them deeper into forests and uninhabited spaces. Overcrowding, changes in climate, food shortages and droughts, are all conditions that could cause violence to spike and decline when circumstances change; but Pinker's presentation of the hunter/gatherer is too superficial to note these differences. And Ryan also focused specifically on the claims Pinker made about 7 claimed hunter/gatherer tribes, wondering aloud if Pinker was guilty of fraud and using misleading evidence in a review on his TED Talk lecture:

Steven Pinker's Stinker on the Origins of War

Did Steven Pinker knowingly mislead his audience at TED?

But hold on. Take a closer look at that chart. It lists seven "hunter-gatherer" cultures as representative of prehistoric war-related male death............................................

Are these groups representative of our hunter-gatherer ancestors?

Not even close.

Only one of the seven societies cited by Pinker (the Murngin) even approaches being an immediate-return foraging society (the way Russia is sort of Asian, if you ignore most of its population and history). The Murngin had been living with missionaries, guns, and aluminum powerboats for decades by the time the data Pinker cites were collected in 1975—not exactly prehistoric conditions.*

None of the other societies cited by Pinker are immediate-return hunter-gatherers, like our ancestors were.** They cultivate yams, bananas, or sugarcane in village gardens, while raising domesticated pigs, llamas, or chickens....................
What would refute Pinker's claim is showing evidence of hunter/gatherer societies where members were not more likely to die to die by violent means than people in western societies are today. Ryan hasn't provided any evidence to support the inference he is making.

When Bible thumpers asked the frequent leading question:where are the missing links? Fossil hunters were quick to point out that finding fossils is like finding a needle in a haystack.....a fossil does not provide a representative sample of an ancient group because they are not a random sample, but fossilized remains preserved by chance while others have decayed and been devoured by predators......so NO, going through an ancient bone collection and looking for evidence of how they died (also difficult to prove) is likely of little use to prove or disprove such a case.

Gray's point is thoroughly meaningless. Demanding that Pinker include every person Gray feels was influential in terms of the enlightenment has nothing to do with Pinker's book, and is a level of inanity

No, Gray is making a valid point by questioning how Pinker and other writers seem to be creating a modern day secular myth in their conception of what the Enlightenment was and who its leaders were.

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