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The Violence Paradox

  • Season 1
  • 2 episodes
  • Documentary

Summary

Despite the constant news of violence, from mass shootings to wars, psychologist Steven Pinker believes we may be living in the most peaceful period in human existence. Could it be true that physical violence has been in decline for centuries? And can it be prevented altogether? Or should we accept that violence is simply part of human nature? The Violence Paradox takes a journey through history and the human mind to explore what triggers violence and how it may have decreased over time.

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Episode 1: The Violence Paradox

Summary

Psychologist Steven Pinker journeys through history and the human mind to explore what triggers violence and how it may have decreased over time. In the first of two programmes, research includes clues from a prehistoric archaeological dig in Kenya, an experiment to test the moral judgement of babies and data analysis of 239 years of Old Bailey proceedings.
Recommended

Review

Here’s one of those BBC4 Big Idea series that we’ll miss when they’re gone. It takes as its canvas… the whole of history. The gist is: across the centuries, humankind has become less violent. That seems counter-intuitive: we see murder, war and terrorism around the world and imagine we live in the worst of times. But the series argues the opposite is true: across any number of data sets and countries, violence has steadily declined, yet that rarely makes news.

“You never see a journalist saying, ‘I’m reporting live from a country that’s at peace’,” says Steven Pinker, whose 2011 book The Better Angels of Our Nature rejected the idea of humans as essentially savage. We can  be aggressive (especially males), like most animals, but we also have empathy circuits deep in our brains, the series argues. A neat experiment with puppets shows babies already have a sense of fairness.

How to Watch

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On demand

Details

Formats
Colour

Credits

Cast

rolename
PresenterSteven Pinker

Crew

rolename
Executive ProducerJulia Cort
Executive ProducerChris Schmidt
Series ProducerMelanie Wallace

All Episodes

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  • Summary

    Psychologist Steven Pinker journeys through history and the human mind to explore what triggers violence and how it may have decreased over time. In the first of two programmes, research includes clues from a prehistoric archaeological dig in Kenya, an experiment to test the moral judgement of babies and data analysis of 239 years of Old Bailey proceedings.
    Recommended

    Review

    Here’s one of those BBC4 Big Idea series that we’ll miss when they’re gone. It takes as its canvas… the whole of history. The gist is: across the centuries, humankind has become less violent. That seems counter-intuitive: we see murder, war and terrorism around the world and imagine we live in the worst of times. But the series argues the opposite is true: across any number of data sets and countries, violence has steadily declined, yet that rarely makes news.

    “You never see a journalist saying, ‘I’m reporting live from a country that’s at peace’,” says Steven Pinker, whose 2011 book The Better Angels of Our Nature rejected the idea of humans as essentially savage. We can  be aggressive (especially males), like most animals, but we also have empathy circuits deep in our brains, the series argues. A neat experiment with puppets shows babies already have a sense of fairness.

    How to Watch

    Loading

    On demand

    Details

    Formats
    Colour

    Credits

    Cast

    rolename
    PresenterSteven Pinker

    Crew

    rolename
    Executive ProducerJulia Cort
    Executive ProducerChris Schmidt
    Series ProducerMelanie Wallace
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