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ButItDidHappen

I have mixed feelings on Pinker, but I don't think Mehdi Hassan comes off particularly well here. He's clearly trying to run circles around Pinker by interrupting, speaking quickly and loudly, and flooding him with alleged opinions from authorities who he rarely names - *some scholars say, some authors say, some economists say, etc.* This didn't gradually turn into a contentious interview through an organic disagreement, Hassan clearly went in with the intention of trying to make Pinker sweat as much as possible, regardless of argumentative fluency or coherence. Hassan wouldn't need the rhetorical hurricane and "some experts" machine gunfire if he felt genuinely confident in being able to deconstruct Pinker's arguments.


SprinklesFederal7864

I actually thought Mehdi was doing great job to pointing out Pinker's analysis on poverty reduction and wealth inequality was totally flawed. Hasan obviously was prepared to dismantle Pinker's arguments rather than making constructive discussion but he called a spade a spade imo.


SamuelClemmens

I think he did the opposite and showed Pinker was 100% correct. It just made it look like Mehdi didn't understand basic math and problem solving.


SprinklesFederal7864

No,Pinker was 120% incorrect. https://www.jasonhickel.org/blog/2019/2/3/pinker-and-global-poverty Poverty actually went up if you raise the poverty line.


xmorecowbellx

Do you understand why changing the measurement, doesn’t change reality? Do you understand that the poverty rate is decreasing, no matter where you draw that line?


SprinklesFederal7864

Strawman argument. Btw do you understand UN set the poverty reduction on the basis of absolute number? Then they moved the goal post years later so they said proportional reduction was the victory.


xmorecowbellx

You somehow managed to miss the point, make an irrelevant point, and fail to understand what a strawman is, in one post. Do you understand how the UN using a absolute number, is irrelevant? Do you understand that even if you move the goal posts, this changes nothing about the argument? Do you get that wherever you put those goal posts, Pinker’s point still stands?


Reach_your_potential

No shit. Lmao. What kind of fucking argument is that?


WhoCaresWhyBother

This seems massively cherry picked. The total numbers of people went up because the population grew. The only time they acknowledge the % of people living under the new poverty line, they bin the analysis to 1980-2000, ignoring that the slight uptick reverses trend and goes down to below 1980 rates by 2013. To boot, that % analysis explicitly ignores China, which is included in the first overall numbers graph. From these figures, you can easily infer that if you include China, the % of people living in poverty in 2013 would be way lower than the 1980 figure. This blog seems like dishonest rubbish.


StalemateAssociate_

We should also consider that something like Simpson’s paradox may be going on, which is another way of saying that the percentage of people in poverty worldwide may be misleading. Mexico’s population is something like ten times bigger today than it was in 1900. Most Western nations barely doubled, I think (too lazy to google rn). In the second half of the 20th century infant mortality fell drastically in the ‘third world’, while birth rates stayed at 6-8 children per women for a long time. It’s possible that poverty rates decreased in all of most countries over a given time period, but increased worldwide.


_cob_

The population can’t grow unless society thrives.


SamuelClemmens

So, I can accept that may be the case (until I read that) but Mehdi didn't come off that way. It came off as Pinker saying "Income has increased X% and so less people make less than Y" and Mehdi saying "Y is too low it should be Q" And Pinker responding "Well, X% means less people make less than Q too, the trend is the same regardless of what point you use" Pinker may have been *wrong* on his numbers, but Mehdi was bouncing around too quick and too rapid fire to make a point to show Pinker was wrong or call out why. So it made Pinker look right.


xmorecowbellx

He wasn’t wrong on his numbers though. Medhi just wanted to use different different numbers……which still support Pinker’s point.


osuneuro

Someone has no idea how to contextualize data.


check_yes_or_no

“Poverty goes up if you raise the poverty line”. Someone get the WTO on the phone, we’ve just solved poverty. Of course it does. Growth happens from the top down. So inequality will go up in times of growth, if your raising the poverty line, of course. The top grows first because that’s where the investment and risk taken happens. There’s no way of changing that, and rather than trying to , it makes more sense to account for the fact and try to govern in a way that’s reflective of it.


M4nWhoSoldTheWorld

I think It would be wise to familiar yourself with the content of the book first. AJ and their content is ain’t far away from RT or Fox News, just a cheap “edgy” conversations mostly based on conspiracy theories blaming developing countries for everything.


SprinklesFederal7864

Well I've read the chart and graph. I guess it would be wise to hear both pro and con not only one side.


M4nWhoSoldTheWorld

Every chart has been explained in the book, which should clarify any confusion for those who watched only pictures. Interviewer wasn’t properly prepared for this conversation.


BestAdventures555

Hickel is well known as a dishonest charlatan. He claims that the poverty rate went up when according to his own data it actually went down, only the total aggregate number in poverty went up due to population growth. He also excludes China completely arbitrarily from his analysis. The poverty rate has gone down irrespective of the level you're looking at. See OurWorldInData. Do not cite this hack Hickel.


Cristianator

Why is he known as a dishonest charlatan?


SprinklesFederal7864

Show me the proof why he's dishonest charlatan. He didn't say rate of poverty but absolute number.So dishonesty is coming from you.


BestAdventures555

Here's some examples: * The **poverty rate** has worsened dramatically since 1981 This statement is factually false, even though it followed on from a claim of being an analysis of the absolute numbers. The poverty rate has improved since 1981, even according to his own skewed graphs, no question. Also this focus on absolute numbers, and then playing hide the ball and sneaking in "poverty rate", is utterly dishonest. Per-capita through and through is the only honest analysis. If a poor country gets 2x bigger, yet per-capita poverty drops by 30%, that's success - the poverty rate has decreased, but according to Hickel, it's a failure. * "In other words, the imposition of neoliberal capitalism from 1980 to 2000 made the **poverty rate** worse, not better." True only if you cherry pick (1) the threshold, (2) the metric, (3) the exclusion of China, (4) the specific years 1980 to 2000. This is a **very dishonest** exercise. If you have any research experience, you know that you can't cherry pick along 4 axes and think that you've come to any kind of valid conclusion. Every single cherry pick was designed to engineer that conclusion of his. Relax any one of those cherry picks and his conclusion disappears into thin air. Also, not only does he engage in extensive cherry picking and rhetorical distortions in order to prove his point, he's also a bully who does ad hominem attacks and sets his twitter mob onto some very good people (like Max Roser). He's a bad apple. If you want to see some real, non-cherry picked and non-distorted data on this question, see OurWorldInData, where they look at poverty rates over a much longer span of time, and they do it according to many different thresholds ($1, $2, $7, etc) so the results **can't** be cherry picked. The picture is totally unambiguous that poverty has improved.


SyntheticBlood

Hickel himself agrees that poverty has reduced even if you raise the poverty line. Direct quote from him: “The proportion of people living under $1.90 per day has declined significantly, but poverty as measured by $7.40/day has declined more slowly, from 70.8 percent in 1981 to 58.1 percent in 2013." https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/2/12/18215534/bill-gates-global-poverty-chart There's a great graph in this article that shows that the situation improves no matter where you set the poverty line, even at $13/day!


SyntheticBlood

Wasn't the point Pinker was making in the interview that what is important is the proportion of people under poverty? The threshold doesn't matter.


atrovotrono

The threshold you choose has a direct effect on the proportion. If your threshold is 0.00000000000001 cents, the proportion in poverty is 0%. If the threshold is 9 trillion dollars, the proportion in poverty is 100%.


SyntheticBlood

Pinker is referring to proportion over time, not proportion alone. Therefore the threshold is largely arbitrary unless you set the threshold at an extreme limit where everyone is grouped on one side of it... Sorry, I didn't clarify earlier.


soulofboop

The proportion change over time can change if you use different thresholds. The proportion of people earning below one dollar daily could go down over time, while over the same period the proportion of people earning under 10 dollars could go up. I haven’t looked at the actual graphs but I think that’s what the interviewer is getting at


SyntheticBlood

That makes sense hypothetically but it looks like that's not the case in the actual data, even critics of Pinker (Hickel and Charles Kenny) agree on that fact: “The proportion of people living under $1.90 per day has declined significantly, but poverty as measured by $7.40/day has declined more slowly, from 70.8 percent in 1981 to 58.1 percent in 2013.” https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/2/12/18215534/bill-gates-global-poverty-chart Edit: there's a great graph in this article that shows exactly that the poverty line doesn't matter, the proportion of people below it reduces.


soulofboop

Thanks that was interesting. I watched that portion of the interview again as well and the interviewer is a bit all over the place. Things do seem to be going in the right direction, percentage-wise at least. I did find [this interactive graph](https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/distribution-of-population-poverty-thresholds) handy. Interestingly, between 1981 and 2003 the percentage of people earning below $10/day did increase each year, while under other thresholds it was decreasing. Then since 2004-2017 that (under $10) has also decreased. Would be interesting to see what the percentages would look like with a $15 threshold. In any case, it must be incredibly grim to be towards the bottom of that graph.


enigmaticpeon

Really? I watched the video before reading the comments and am surprised to see anyone thought the interviewer did a great job. He brought up a bunch of points poised almost as gotcha questions but, in my opinion, really looked silly when Pinker pointed out that ratios mean more than flat numbers. The interviewer was not awful at all, but after his main criticism fell (very obviously) flat he started to really flounder. Pinker was actually very good on his toes with his responses to preconceived gotcha questions. 🤷‍♂️


SprinklesFederal7864

To me,pushing back Pinker's analysis on wealth inequality was particularly great job. Pinker often say absolute wealth matters and cited the example of Sweden with high GDP per capita. But Sweden is one of the most equal nation. Inequality adversely work on multi dimension and often leads to the concentration of capital. I actually think we progressed a lot but ignoring these data are problematic to me. Nevertheless Pinker's book is nice one to appreciate the real progress we have at least since last 300 years.


enigmaticpeon

Conceptually I don’t disagree with you, but I think there’s relevant context for consideration. First, there are few if any (none) analyses that can have an identifiable position that aren’t vulnerable to (reasonable) criticism or conflicting variables. It’s hard to imagine that anyone would be interested in a book titled “we’ve done pretty well on the one hand, but maybe not all that well on the other. In simpler terms, you have to take a position on these things for anyone to be interested. If it’s totally non-controversial, who’s going to read it or have him on to discuss? I don’t mean this as objective support for his position, but this context has to be considered. Alternatively, and probably less controversial, Pinker is making a fairly straightforward utilitarian argument. Imo, his argument can co-exist with the pushback he received. But, again, the pushback was very unconvincing to me. It’s an interesting thing to talk about though and I appreciate your perspective. Edit: I forgot to respond to your point about ignoring the data. I haven’t read his book, but it didn’t seem like he ignored that data at all. It sounds like he considered it and left it out, and made fairy obvious distinctions in how relevant that data is.


SprinklesFederal7864

Thanks for the response. I think we should continue discussion around these other than demonizing the others. I appreciate your perspective too👍 Edit:My perspective on Pinker's analysis is mainly influenced by "unlearning economics" https://youtu.be/fo2gwS4VpHc


enigmaticpeon

I’ll check it out. Definitely open to change my lame ways.


osuneuro

What? Did we watch the same video? Mehdi was doling out non sequiturs left and right. Absolute nonsense, and it was obvious he had an agenda before letting Steven even finish a sentence.


SprinklesFederal7864

🤦🤦🤦


HawkeyeHero

Hassan is insufferable here. His whole schtick is "hey don't be positive we're mad about stuff." Pinker seems to support carbon tax and agrees things need more help, but nope, not enough for Hassan. I'm guessing Hassan is an uber-liberal? He gives us a bad name.


current_the

> Hassan is insufferable here. His whole schtick is "hey don't be positive we're mad about stuff." I just finished reading a book (last night actually) that recounts Richard Spencer speaking at Auburn University circa 2017, and during the Q&A one of the students attempts to defuse his doom-and-gloom about the collapse of civilization. It's a weird comparison but a very similar sense of negation by Hasan and Spencer. It's a few paragraphs [so I pasted it here.](https://pastebin.com/ZvyruD3g)


justanabnormalguy

He’s like most ethnic minority elites in western countries. Woke as fuck, complaining about white people constantly while benefitting from systems created by them, advancing the ethnic interests of his group while saying it’s white supremacy if white people do it, etc.


HawkeyeHero

Eeeh he didn't bring up race at all here.


StalemateAssociate_

Why can’t I load your user profile?


Thread_water

Seems they have been suspended, says so on desktop old reddit style.


xmorecowbellx

While this is not wrong, it’s not limited to minority elites and you do sound legitimately like you have animus towards minorities, not just towards braindead social justice ideas.


crunchybumble

Interviewer: if I scream loud and babble philosopher names out fast maybe it’ll sound like I am winning


StalemateAssociate_

Honestly, why is he so hostile? Is it a part of his format?


justanabnormalguy

British anchors are always more hostile it seems. Strange style imo


Finnyous

Yes, he thinks American press isn't combative enough with the way they interview and is hoping to course correct that. He's correct and most of the time it works out great for him actually.


Taj_Mahole

Do this to politicians, not academics. The latter is much more willing to engage in a reasonable debate and not dodge questions. I think he has good points but his incessant interrupting is annoying.


fartsinthedark

> Do this to politicians, not academics. The latter is much more willing to engage in a reasonable debate and not dodge questions. This is hilarious to anyone who actually interacts with academics. Also hilarious is you don’t think Pinker has a political axe to grind.


Taj_Mahole

I work at a major research university. Not sure what point you're trying to make. How is what I said hilarious? What political axe was Pinker grinding in the video?


[deleted]

Being [the World's Most Annoying Man](https://www.currentaffairs.org/2019/05/the-worlds-most-annoying-man), as usual.


Taj_Mahole

Thank you for the link, it was an interesting and informative read that actually contained some substantive criticism of the guy. I haven’t read his books so I didn’t know what the controversy was about, and the posted video certainly doesn’t showcase his flawed logic the way the article does.


[deleted]

I'll vouch that the article is spot on for every time I've heard him speak and to the extent that I've read his book. I didn't finish it because I got very annoyed with him, but I read enough of it to think I had wasted my money and fallen victim to conservative marketing of a book of polemics that teaches nothing other than to affirm we should keep doing the same thing we're doing. I especially hated how hysterical he gets toward critics, especially environmentalists in an early chapter, while insisting he was super rational and environmentalism had gone too far....in a time of unchecked global warming and forever chemicals in the water he thinks environmentalism is too radical and has gone too far.... Gross. I think he knows better, but knows there is money to be made from defending CEOs that are destroying the ecosystems that support all life while insisting that somehow or other it'll all work itself if we remain positive, because we're still alive and haven't killed ourselves quite yet.


Glittering-Roll-9432

Pinkers schtick is to be a culture warrior for alt right / new right ideas. He's been waging this for years.


SyntheticBlood

Yeah, who let this asshole on the air? That was some of the most combative interviewing I've seen. So many attempts at gotcha questions and then when they fail he doesn't stop, he just keeps trying again!


atrovotrono

British media isn't like Joe Rogan or Sam Harris, where it's presumed that the way to get a deep, engaging conversation is to bring two people on who agree with each other 99% and discuss the remaining 1% with as much polite restraint as possible. I think more lively conversations *could* be had in the podcast space, but everyone seems more concerned with being friendly so they can secure future appearances during future book tours.


crunchybumble

Steven Pinker prides in his reason, unfortunately this is not in fashion any longer. Now it’s time of simple and emotional statements. The more aggressive your are the more you are acknowledged. Pinkers are true heroes of our time.


_cob_

Took a page from that Channel 4 twit that interviewed Peterson.


manteiga_night

still sore about that?


xmorecowbellx

He honestly seems like an absolute moron. It’s like he doesn’t understand, or is pretending not to understand the difference between absolute numbers and proportion. It’s weird that Pinker has to explain the difference, and he tries to turn that back on Pinker, saying that Pinker uses absolute numbers, apparently completely missing the point that even the absolute numbers have changed using one of the cut-offs, which is quite remarkable considering the several billion people added to the planet during that time. This doesn’t undercut Pinker’s argument, it makes it stronger, and somehow this goof cannot understand that (or is pretending he can’t). I mean the interviewer actually thinks it’s a good point, to indicate that more people are now in poverty in absolute terms, by a different cut-off, over a period where 3 billion people were added to the planet. Like he literally thinks this is some kind of valuable addition to the conversation.


readMyFlow

What the host's doing it comes from a good place - a good journalism - you interview by challenging the weaknesses, nooks and crannies you found in the book. You should represent the author's critics and voice their concerns so the author can respond live on air. That's mostly what he was trying to do, but I don't think he can help himself doing these cheap hit and run tactics throughout the interview. It seemed a tad overkill for an interview about a book about such neutral idea.


SyntheticBlood

That's a fair point, but it requires that the interviewee be able to speak. Pinker was barely able to get his counterarguments out before this guy cut him off.


fozziethebeat

A lot of Pinkers arguments in the interview were “that evidence doesn’t matter here”. Pinker was pretty dismissive to other data sources and interpretations which counter his argument. A good interview like Hassan catches this and focuses on the trend because it makes clear what Pinker writes should be read very carefully


[deleted]

I agree. It was definitely an antagonistic interview, but also challenging. Maybe if these two had and hour or two to discuss, it would've been more productive. That said, I do like seeing people on the hot seat, even people that I agree with.


asdfasdflkjlkjlkj

That smart people accept this sort of style as "good journalism" is evidence of Stockholm Syndrome, and nothing more. You are stuck with lazy, dishonest media, and so you convince yourself there *must* be some merit to it. Open your eyes for a second: Mehdi Hassan's approach is not designed to inform fair minds. It is designed to entertain biased partisans and convince rubes who don't know better. A good interview *critically engages* a subject. In contrast, if you look at Mehdi, you'll notice that he is completely disconnected from Pinker. In fact, for a lot of the interview, the moment he finishes a question, he loses interest in Pinker's answer only a second or two after Pinker opens his mouth to respond. His eyes are back on his notesheet, looking for the next attack. Pinker might as well be talking to himself. This makes Mehdi's criticisms contentless to an intelligent viewer: you know he's not attacking Pinker because he disagrees with the argument that Pinker just made, but rather because he is determined to attack Pinker no matter what Pinker says. You could watch hours of this sort of journalism and emerge with no real understanding of anything. Smart people should not tolerate this sort of programming. It's brain rot.


xmorecowbellx

In theory one *could* do those positive things related to journalism. In this case that wasn’t happening, he was just talking over his subject every few seconds when he tried to speak, as soon as he recognized his attacks were easy tossed.


bluejumpingdog

We live longer.? This is use to be true but is going back the U.S. lost one year of life expectancy in 2020


warrenfgerald

"But your saying inequality isn't a problem to solve" WTF.... Pinker never said anything like that. This interview reminds me of that BBC interview with Jordan Peterson where the interviewer lady kept putting words in Peterson's mouth that he never said. "Your saying women are not as qualified as men" Etc... So annoying.


SyntheticBlood

100%. I can't believe they let this idiot on air.


atrovotrono

I'm guessing most people in this thread are Americans, because quite a few people here seem to take anything short of a complete softball interview as "Medhi having an agenda" and are getting completely triggered by it. To those folks: you're kinda revealing to everyone what kind of media your brain is conditioned to, namely echo-chambers. British interviewers are pretty much expected to be contentious if not antagonistic, they're not really fans of the interview-as-soapbox model. The case a few years ago when Ben Shapiro accused one of the crustiest Tories in the UK of having a liberal agenda during an interview comes to mind. Same thing happened with Jordan Peterson and Cathy Newman, though Cathy arguably went slightly further (like 10%) than most British interviewers typically do. That semi-famous Axios interview with Trump elicited similar shocked reactions from Trump fans and accusations of foul play.


asdfasdflkjlkjlkj

I don't care if he has an agenda. I think it's a bad form of interview. It's infotainment, nothing more. And to argue we don't have it in the US is asinine. Watch FOX, CNN, or MSNBC. There are plenty of incredibly antagonistic, hostile interviews in the US, and there have been for a long time. Go watch old clips of CrossFire -- it's non-stop shouting at cross purposes. This style of interview is designed to make good television by stimulating conflict and drama in a tight, 8-to-15-minute segment. It is not supposed to inform the viewership in any substantive way. People criticize it for good reason.


atrovotrono

>I think it's a bad form of interview. It's infotainment, nothing more. Can you say anything to support all this? I just see two bald assertions. I think it's a much better form of interview than what, say, Joe Rogan does. It actually forces people off-script rather than just repeat whatever they said in the book they wrote (ie. not >Watch FOX, CNN, or MSNBC. There are plenty of incredibly antagonistic, hostile interviews in the US, and there have been for a long time. I've not found them nearly as hostile as British interviewers. Any pushback is limited in both depth and duration, sometimes it seems like a formality by comparison. > Go watch old clips of CrossFire Tell me something current I can watch, not a show whose golden age was over 20 years ago before the 24/7 network news media system matured, and ironically in the context of our conversation, had a failed revival 5 years ago in which they tweaked the formula by adding a segment to discuss common ground. >This style of interview is designed to make good television by stimulating conflict and drama in a tight, 8-to-15-minute segment. It is not supposed to inform the viewership in any substantive way. People criticize it for good reason. I disagree entirely. When done correctly, it forces interviewees off scripts, off talking points, off dialogue trees. Without it the interview process is just a guy prompting another guy to read the inside jacket of his book, one paragraph at a time. At least so-called aggressive interviews are entertaining in addition to being more informational than the inside jacket of someone's latest book, softball interviews amount to little more than infor*mercials.*


readMyFlow

“It’s infortainment nothing more.” I actually got to hear what the critics had to say. If there’s an interview with an author and I hear none of the voices of his critics I’ll know that it wasn’t a good interview. Putting words in his mouth and saying he said things he actually never said, not giving him time to respond, now that we can agree to have problems with.


nine8whatwhat

Assumming everything Pinker says is true, I never understood his point. Is he talking to poor people struggling today who need to stop complaining because the world has progressed or liberals who say we still need to do more or...does he want people to stop looking towards something like socialism?


AnimusHerb240

His aim is to impede aggressive reform, he is a Status Quo Warrior


SamuelClemmens

Status quo implies he doesn't want change. Its more accurate to say he thinks the current systems are working to achieve progressive aims and that changing them risks an end to progress.


TheAJx

Has Pinker ever said anything against changing current systems, especially where scientific study shows that changing them would produce beneficial results?


AnimusHerb240

Yes, that's the sterilized, soulless rightoid neolib mantra Not more accurate to say, more spineless


SamuelClemmens

I notice you are making a lot of ad hominem and ignoring the important question: Is he right? That is all that matters for the non-religious.


AnimusHerb240

Maybe all that matters for cold, tone-policing sociopaths


TheAJx

I always thought it was a little rich that the same people that claim Pinker prays at the altar of progress are also the same ones that throw a fit when you point out that increases in crime are bad, that shoplifting from stores in poor neighborhoods is bad, etc.


Torker

He wants more investment in science and technology, and other things shown to help reduce poverty and human suffering.


BloodsVsCrips

Keep in mind, he blames liberals for conservative denial of climate change.


JBoth2018

He said that if liberals presented their argument in a more palatable way they would convince more people on the other side of the debate. This isn't really a controversial statement.


TheAJx

It's not really, but it is a red herring.


JBoth2018

Can't debate that because I don't understand what you're saying.


TheAJx

"If the liberals just presented their argument better" is not an incorrect statement, but that thought process applies to *everything.* It's not controversial to say that if Steven Pinker just presented his argument in a more palatable way people would be less likely to dismiss him and bring up Epstein accusations, but that is also a red herring. A statement can be uncontroversial and still be a red herring. It is the equivalent of saying "if you had cooked him his favorite meal last Thursday he would have been less likely to cheat."


JBoth2018

Ok, so we both agree he didn't say anything incorrect, you just think that he should be focusing on a different aspect of the problem.


TheAJx

To be more specific I think he is introducing a red herring.


JBoth2018

It sounds like you feel like any criticism of "your side" should not be permitted, there is only room to blame one side fully for the problem. In most disagreements there are ways that both sides can work together to come to a consensus. Demonizing the other side feels good but doesn't work.


TheAJx

It sounds like you feel that any criticism of Steven Pinker should not be permitted, and that everything he says is gospel. In most disagreements there are ways that both sides can work together to come to a consensus. Demonizing me feels good but doesn't work.


Schmuckatello

Where does he do this? I know he has said that certain political positions on the left lead to lack of policy, but I haven't heard or read him anywhere say that the science denial on the right is the fault of the left. Can you give a specific source I can consume?


BloodsVsCrips

Podcast with Ezra Klein


Haffrung

He’s challenging the popular misconception that everything is getting worse. If we tear down a system responsible for such remarkable progress, we may well end up undermining that progress. But really, why does he need any more justification for his arguments besides the fact that they’re true? Isn’t correcting unfounded belief a social good in and of itself?


TheAJx

> He’s challenging the popular misconception that everything is getting worse. It would be nice if the same people that fawned over Douglas Murray's "The Strange Death of Europe" or *Eurabia* got introduced to Steven Pinker's thesis, considering they seem to run in similar circles. I mean I get that it's predictable ideological hackery, but it would be nice if someone utilized Pinker to challenge the "Western Civilization is on the brink of collapse" squad.


Haffrung

Do they run in the same circles? Not that I see. Both have no love for the progressive left, but that’s true of 80 per cent of people. But I agree that crowd could also use more facts and less fear. One of the things the far right and far left have in common is the belief that we live in calamitous times. Another is that their cherished narratives are immune to empirical evidence to the contrary.


TheAJx

> Do they run in the same circles Well here's a hint - one of them is the sub's name sake. >But I agree that crowd could also use more facts and less fear. One of the things the far right and far left have in common is the belief that we live in calamitous times. Another is that their cherished narratives are immune to empirical evidence to the contrary. Douglas Murray isn't far-right. He is a mainstream conservative who has received high praise from left-wing liberals such as Richard Dawkins and Sam. European Civilizational Collapse fearmongering is a mainstream conservative narrative, not a fringe right-wing one.


Haffrung

Pinker is a champion of liberal democracy, globalism, and technocratic capitalism - which can hardly be said of Murray and his fellow travellers. His most prominent admirer is Bill Gates. Other fans include Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Clinton, and Justin Trudeau. How many of those people would ask Douglas Murray for a meeting, or tell the media they have a copy of The Strange Death of Europe on their bedside table? You’re making the mistake of believing the online tribal battle-lines of places like reddit are representative of wider public opinion and politics. They’re not.


TheAJx

I think you're a little confused. Douglas Murray is a relatively known political and cultural commentator in the UK, he is not a redditor or youtuber. And the point here isn't too talk about who Barack Obama and Justin Trudeau like - two people that have no relevance to Sam Harris, it was to talk about other cultural commentators in the same sphere as Sam Harris, such as someone like Caitlin Flannigan or Richard Dawkins as the example I gave before.


asdfasdflkjlkjlkj

Pinker thinks that science, liberalism, and incremental progress have delivered incredible benefits for society and he wants to double down on them. He doesn't like passionate revolutionaries who want to overturn the entire system on the basis of an emotional argument that "everything is going to shit." He thinks that at best, they're wasting their energy, and at worst, they're actively dangerous. He believes that they have no understanding of how the world actually works, are unwilling to admit that the systems they abhor have produced incredible benefits, and that they are unwilling to do the hard, boring, emotionally unfulfilling work of seriously studying the problems of human suffering and coming up with realistic means of incrementally alleviating it.


chytrak

He is talking to people who think there is no point in trying because the golden age is behind us.


TheAJx

> Is he talking to poor people struggling today who need to stop complaining because the world has progressed or liberals who say we still need to do more or...does he want people to stop looking towards something like socialism? He's not talking to "poor people" because poor people have no clue who Steven Pinker is or care about what Harvard is up to. He is talking to upscale educated progressives who claim to speak on behalf of the poor but are completely detached from their needs and concerns.


Reach_your_potential

God bless this man. I would have punched that dude in the fucking face. Lmao. Jesus Christ. This was like the Jordan Peterson interview.


M4nWhoSoldTheWorld

What a terrible interview. It’s sad to see that AlJazeera is still disconnected from reality, and struggling to understand simple scientific and historical facts…


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jmcsquared

>This dude's a propagandist. You're referring to Mehdi Hasan, right?


readMyFlow

World is getting better 100 percent. For humans that is.


daveberzack

...for now. We're cashing a lot of checks signed by future generations, enjoying a lot of wealth and comfort at the expense of geopolitical and ecological stability.


TheAJx

> We're cashing a lot of checks signed by future generations, Future generations have signed the check since the development of agrarian societies. This is not new, nor is it unique to the modern economic order. >enjoying a lot of wealth and comfort at the expense of geopolitical and ecological stability. Even if this was true, it's objectively better than enjoying no wealth, no comfort while also having no geopolitical and ecological stability.


Brahman00

So humans literally causing a mass extinction event is worth it, got it.


TheAJx

My question to you is would we be better off with 2 billion Chinese and Indians consigned to abject poverty (which was the case about 30 years ago) just because that would reduce CO2 emmissions?


Brahman00

First off its important to point out that its not either or, second if it has to be either billions of people living in poverty or causing a mass extinction event that ends up making the planet inhospitable yes the mass extinction event is far worse. What do you think is going to happen to those billions of people when the ecosystem and weather patterns that civilization relies on falls apart?


TheAJx

> First off its important to point out that its not either or, Great, I agree. So you do you agree that preventing a mass extinction event doesn't require completely overhauling the current economic order (or even more tangentally, requiring "racial and social justice, and whatever other noble Sunrise Movement goals exist) and that it's possible to prevent that mass extinction event without causing a reduction in wealth and comfort? >What do you think is going to happen to those billions of people when the ecosystem and weather patterns that civilization relies on falls apart? Ideally, the billions of people no longer mired in poverty will be able to leverage the solutions. If India was still as poor as it was in 1990, they would not have the institutional capacity to be building solar parks at a torrid pace. >people living in poverty or causing a mass extinction event that ends up making the planet inhospitable yes the mass extinction event is far worse. Elites telling poor third worlders that they must remain poor for the sake of saving the world is one way to not get any of them on board with whatever grand project you are envisioning. But I'm glad that you've made this clear rather than danced around it.


Brahman00

>Great, I agree. So you do you agree that preventing a mass extinction event doesn't require completely overhauling the current economic order (or even more tangentally, requiring "racial and social justice, and whatever other noble Sunrise Movement goals exist) and that it's possible to prevent that mass extinction event without causing a reduction in wealth and comfort? Without a massive reduction in our consumption and changing our economy that prioritizes toward infinite growth at the cost of the planet we are fucked. >Ideally, the billions of people no longer mired in poverty will be able to leverage the solutions. If India was still as poor as it was in 1990, they would not have the institutional capacity to be building solar parks at a torrid pace. It will take far more than just solar/green energy to avoid destroying the ecosystem, as I said it requires a fundamental change in our levels of consumption and profit driven economy. >Elites telling poor third worlders that they must remain poor for the sake of saving the world is one way to not get any of them on board with whatever grand project you are envisioning. But I'm glad that you've made this clear rather than danced around it. Extremely disingenuous reply because I made it abundantly clear that its not either or only that if it was either or more people in poverty is not worse a **MASS EXTINCTION EVENT** You didnt steel man my argument and youre clearly not arguing in good faith, have a nice day.


TheAJx

Everything you have written has made it abundantly clear that it *is* an either/or. If you want a massive reduction in consumption or "changing the economy that prioritized infinite growth" you are calling for a revolutionary shift in attitudes across 180+ countries. It is also unclear to me that there's any economic system that does not prioritize growth, but if you find one that is reasonably popular, I'd love to know.


Cristianator

We are mostly doing it to enrich a small sliver of the 1% not really to bring ppl out of poverty lol.


daveberzack

I'm not saying we should or could reverse back to any previous, more sustainable age. I'm just saying that it's myopic to celebrate an age of peace and prosperity without also considering the unprecedented scale and quantity of existential threats. Yes, that is unique to the last century or so.


bluejumpingdog

Life expectancy is shorter now in the U.S that I use to be 3 years ago


manteiga_night

> what is climate change and increasing wealth inequaliy and lowered standards of living?


atrovotrono

Look, there are fewer Morlocks below the poverty line than ever, enjoying larger bread crust rations than ever, and the average life expectancy of those working in gold and diamond mines is higher than ever. I don't see what the immortal Eloi's floating, golden, bejeweled cloud cities have to do with that, clearly the current system is a net benefit to all. You're just trying to create unnecessary social divisions by talking about both in the same context.


Ionceburntpasta

On what metrics is it getting worse?


desivoltaire

climate and inequality to start with


melodyze

In what way is inequality, in itself, a problem? I see how it can be an indicator that there may be systemic issues that are both causing other real problems and inequality. The world can become more unequal because of a kleptocracy reallocating resources away from the poor, and reduced living standards for the poor are bad. But the economy isn't zero sum. Not all gains at the top are taken from the bottom. Kleptocracy and inequality have some relationship, but aren't the same thing. Kleptocracy is a concern, and that calls for specific remediation like overturning citizens united, but I completely fail to see how inequality is, in itself, a top level concern.


desivoltaire

We live in a. world where money buys you votes and influence. So wealth inequality leads to unequal rights and powers. Also, economy isn't infinite sum either. But inequality means the rich can hoard more resources.


StalemateAssociate_

The way I see it there are three broad categories. It might be a problem because it’s a result of a broken system, as you mentioned. It might be a problem because its effects, e.g. it could cause unequal power which might lead to a broken system. It might also be a problem in itself. If you’re a Rawlsian, say, or a utilitarian. If a time traveller went back to the early Middle Ages and gave a subset of the population a bunch of tech and then went back ten years later (in medieval time) and gave the same group even more impressive tech, would that be a problem?


Ionceburntpasta

Wealth inequality has always been a problem. The living condition of European elite 200 years ago was vastly different from the commoner.


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locutogram

I'm not an expert but it looks like the data goes back to 1984 and shows increasing happiness since measurement started. https://ourworldindata.org/happiness-and-life-satisfaction


manteiga_night

how do you even measure that reliably?


personalcheesecake

hasn't been around long enough to reference an all time high to be honest. since invention more people are using them then the past but more people are alive as well. there are many factors involved with meaning and happiness.. I think there were literal translations of information taken as if he is the one providing the numbers on what is rather than it being looked at as potential which I believe is his aim.


manteiga_night

life expectancy, can't get more basically worse than that


Ionceburntpasta

Life expectancy has increased pretty much in all countries. Though in US, it has been decreasing since the past three years due to opioid overdose.


The_Winklevii

I mean look at OP’s post history. He’s a propaganda spammer.


radiomoskva1991

Good god Mehdi Hassan is a self-righteous bore


automatic4skin

who likes this sort of interviewing? being smarmy and combative is disney channel bullshit


stfuiamafk

Medhi is like a climate change denier taking a snow ball to congress as a some sort of "gotcha" moment. Impressive that he fails to understand global trends vs local trends.


Alhoshka

"If you look at the work done by Jason Jickel from the LSE, if you take the poverty line of 5$, 1 billion people have been added to the number of people on that poverty measure since 1981 [...] he's an expert and you are not." * World population in 1981: 4.5 billion [[1]](https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/world-population-by-year/) * World population in 2020: 7.8 billion [[1]](https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/world-population-by-year/) * Major population increase coming almost exclusively from poor or developing countries [[2]](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population_growth_rate) And yet: * Total population increase: 3.3 billion * Poor population increase: 1 billion If this is the substance of his objection, you don't need to be an "expert in the field". You just need 6th-grade algebra. BIG. BRAIN. MOMENT.


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shebs021

Pinker would take a family of hunter-gatherers, shove them into a coal mine for 2 cents per hour, and claim how they escaped poverty.


stfuiamafk

So if you can leap directly to an american middle class income it's better to just stay a hunter gatherer with no access to health care, education or technology?


locutogram

If in this hypothetical world 2 cents per hour lifted you out of poverty, then yes. But he would want data on the miner's happiness, outcomes for their family, and the environmental impacts of the activity to present a full non-hyperbolic picture. You could probably learn some things from his work.


atrovotrono

Those hunter gatherers just increased their income by NaN%. They're basically infinitely richer than before!


warrenfgerald

Hunter gatherers that would likely be bashed over the head with a rock by their neighbor and dead by age 25.


shebs021

Yes. That continued to happen all throughout history and then humanity went extinct. They were far more likely to not meet their neighbors than get murdered by them by the age of 25.


StalemateAssociate_

Yes, it is well known that hunter-gatherers lived in nuclear families and seldom saw other humans.


atrovotrono

Pretty sure "neighbors" was meant to mean people outside their tribe, not people outside their nuclear families. The idea of the nuclear family as a basic unit of society is pretty recent, anthropologically.


shebs021

>The idea of the nuclear family as a basic unit of society is pretty recent, anthropologically. There is actually a lot of disagreement on this. Many modern hunter-gatherer tribes do, in fact, form nuclear families (Hadza, Agta, Mbendjele). Although it is not known whether they were always like that or whether they changed their economic strategies due to being pushed into marginal environments by colonialism. Same with warfare/intergroup conflict.


atrovotrono

Sure. Colonialism can also impose legal and economic incentives to form nuclear families even if it isn't forcing those groups into nasty environments, such as kinship definitions in laws surrounding inheritance, guardianship, taxes, etc. that these groups are subject to regardless of their otherwise lifestyle choices.


TheNotSoGreatPumpkin

My layman’s take is that the nuclear family is a social adaptation of scale, like so many others. An essential threshold for the necessity for scaling is tribal size. When the tribe is sufficiently small that all members know each other on a personal basis and trust can be established, there is little need for either property rights or genetic claims between individuals (sexual exclusivity). When the tribe grows beyond the size threshold, personal relationships between all members becomes impossible, and so does implicit trust. Nobody can ever be sure some rat among the unknown members isn’t trying to screw them over. The only good means of taming suspicions and keeping the peace is codification of property rights and sexual exclusivity, i.e. ownership and marriage.


Glittering-Roll-9432

That's what religion and cultural rituals did, gave you implicit trust in someone on the other side of the city. Unfortunately religion is false so we have to replace that with something real. Secular humanism allows us to have implict trust with the people on the other side of the city, and it does this in a real world way.


BestAdventures555

False. Anthropological studies are clear on the question of how often humans used to get murdered. It used to be about 100,000 to 300,000 percent more likely back then than it is now.


atrovotrono

Which studies are those?


BestAdventures555

The entire literature. It's massive. Go look at studies that dig up grave sites from ancient Croatia. Literally any country.


manteiga_night

please don't embarass yourself like that, you're quoting pinker and his dodgy maths and inability to understand the concept of time or distance or even that you shouldn't count the same grave several times to inflate your numbers


BestAdventures555

Ok let's cool it and try to have a level headed discussion. I admit I went into it in a combative tone and I shouldn't have expected a better response than what you gave me. So here's where I'm coming from with my comment. Even though it's true that we don't know for sure what the murder rate was in pre-historic hunter gatherer tribes, since we simply don't have enough data, we can get some idea via two ways: (i) studies that dig up gravesites from 800-2000 years ago in medieval Europe or elsewhere, and estimate the % of skeletons that showed signs of violent deaths, these show something like 5% and upwards died from violence, and (ii) anthropological studies of modern day hunter-gatherer tribes that have been mostly untouched by modernity. According to both (i) and (ii), we have an indication that the murder rate pre-states used to be somewhere in the ballpark of 5-20% per capita, which is about 100,000% higher than the murder rate in modern rich countries. There are certainly modern hunter-gatherer societies with a murder rate far less than 5%, perhaps even comparable to modern South America, but the broad claim is true that there's a high likely you'd be born into one of those with a 5%+ murder rate. Basically, things were hugely varied depending on the tribe, but extremely high murder rate societies driven by blood feuds were probably extremely commonplace. And even if all these estimates are off by an order of magnitude, it doesn't change the conclusion. We're talking about violence on a drastically different scale to what we currently experience. The noble savage myth is just that. **SOURCE**: https://ourworldindata.org/ethnographic-and-archaeological-evidence-on-violent-deaths


dontpet

What you said is highly supported by Pinkers earlier book, Better Angels of our Nature. He upspired quite a lot of criticism for pointing out that violence around the world has been in significant decline over the last 500 years. I'm talking logarithmic decline here. Hunter gatherer societies were pointed to as a situation associated with the highest violence.


atrovotrono

Actually that's not true at all, you're watching too many movies.


BestAdventures555

Noble savage fantasy. It's a fetish of the far left. Yes, having a life expectancy of 60 is better than one of 40 with a 0.3 chance of getting an axe to the face and a 0.2 chance of a fatal dental infection.


AnimusHerb240

Pinker deserves more vitriol There is a 0% chance history will look back kindly on his reactionary social commentary


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jmcsquared

*Oh no, photos!! Whatever shall we do?!?!?* Give it a rest. This kind of conspiratorial bullshit is old news at this point.


HumaneSquash094

photos, helping in his legal defense, going to countless functions with him AFTER he had already been found guilty of sex trafficking, these are all nothing.


TheAJx

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ImWhoeverYouSayIAm

Interviewer: So Steven, we are becoming increasingly aware of how microplastics are a problem. They are accumulating everywhere from the highest mountain to the bottom of the Mariana trench. Microplastics are accumulating in our body and causing decreasing fertility. The impact of these microplastics is forever. In several years, humans could be totally sterile, resulting in extinction. Steven Pinker: ... and that means infant mortality will inevitably be zero! Interviewer: Well, yeah. That's because there will be no babies being born ... ever again. Steven Pinker: *Exactly.* Infant mortality will be solved, forever! Interviewer: (facepalm)


unholyravenger

What? Did you watch the interview? That didn't happen and nothing was analogous to that. I guess the closest was he was challenged on saying that climate change is solvable, but his point was a counter to people who are just doomers about climate change not saying it's not a problem at all.


Novalis0

I know you were just making a joke, but I'll still respond since there's a lot of misunderstandings when it comes to microplastics and EDC's: >According to a comprehensive review of scientific evidence published by the European Union's Scientific Advice Mechanism in 2019, "little is known with respect to the human health risks of nano- and microplastics, and what is known is surrounded by considerable uncertainty". The authors of the review identify the main limitations as the quality or methodology of the research to date. Since "the poison is in the dose", the review concludes that "there is a need to understand the potential modes of toxicity for different size-shape-type NMP combinations in carefully selected human models, before robust conclusions about ‘real’ human risks can be made". >In controlled experiments, high concentrations of these particles have been shown to cause physical harm to the environment and living creatures, including inducing inflammation and stress. However, the concentration levels measured in many real-world locations are well below this threshold -- though there are also limitations in the measurement methods currently available. >It is as yet unknown if exposure to microplastics at the levels found in the environment represent a "real" risk to humans; research into the subject is ongoing. The claims made by the author are highly controversial and don't represent the view of the scientific community: *Missing from Kristof’s column is any understanding that the scientists he quotes are not representative of views in the scientific community.* A very different picture emerges when one listens to some of the foremost authorities in the field of reproductive health. Richard Sharpe is in the Medical Research Council at Edinburgh University and one of the world’s foremost endocrinologists. He is the research scientist who originated the notion and study of ‘endocrine disrupting chemicals’ in the 1990s. Over the years, after participating in and reviewing hundreds of studies on EDCs, *he is convinced the concept is wrongheaded—an ideological belief and not science based.* Speaking to The Guardian, he stressed the lamentable degree of our ignorance concerning the array of factors influencing healthy male reproductive development due to a lack of research investment. We need a critical mass of scientists trying to find out what is happening and why it is happening. Unfortunately, we still do not have that. Not enough research is being done. Yet I believe the problem is getting worse. On what might be causing the decline in sperm counts, Sharpe added: “Given that we still do not know what lifestyle, dietary or chemical exposures might have caused this decrease, research efforts to identify (them) need to be redoubled and to be non-presumptive as to cause.” After interviewing Sharpe in 2017, the science journalist Philip Ball wrote that, *“Sharpe suspects that diet, lifestyle, medications and environmental chemicals all play roles, possibly in that order.”* [New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof echoes scientifically dubious fears about falling sperm counts and ‘endocrine disrupting’ chemicals](https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2021/03/01/viewpoint-new-york-times-nicholas-kristof-again-echoes-scientifically-dubious-fears-about-falling-sperm-counts-and-endocrine-disrupting-chemicals/) *Kabat has offered similar criticisms of a prior Kristof column on the topic, as has Dr. Paul Turek, an internationally renowned expert in men’s sexual health and reproductive urology, who has pointed out that the reported decline in sperm counts derives from flawed epidemiology studies, and that the reported level of decline still leaves the vast majority of men well within what is widely considered to be the normal and healthy range.* [Just a dud?](https://www.science20.com/gregory_bond/just_a_dud_swan_book_count_down_alleging_apocalyptic_threat_of_extinction_due_to_chemicals_greatly_disappoints) *And her take on the human fertility issue just seems entirely backwards to me. The Danish woman being less fertile than her grandmother sounds dreadful, until you realise that fertility is literally measured by how many children you have. The Danish study found that 20-somethings in the 2000s have fewer children than 35-year-olds in the early 1900s. But that’s because Danish women, like women almost everywhere in the world and especially the developed West, are just having fewer children and having them later. The study had nothing to say about whether these women (or their partners) were less capable of having children.* [Don’t worry about your sperm count](https://unherd.com/2021/03/the-truth-about-spermageddon/)


BruiseHound

Pinker is morally bankrupt


pend-bungley

Can you elaborate? He seems to draw a lot of angry criticism but his work and public persona both seem so vanilla. Has he said something specific that offended a lot of people?


dontpet

Pinker upsets people because he points out major truths that people don't like. In the Blank Slate he pointed out that biology has so much to do with who people are, with this challenging the belief that we aren't bound by our biology. In Better Angels of our Nature he pointed out that for the last 500 years humanity has become more and more democratic and non violent. And in the latest book he is telling people we are making some economic progress.


BruiseHound

Gave expert linguist opinion in Epstein's defense for his sex trafficking case. Then insists that he knew nothing about the details of the case.


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JBoth2018

Why do you think he was good friends with Epstein? My understanding is that he was involved in the court case because of his expertise in linguistics. What specifically do you think he did that was wrong?


BabaB0oey

If you’re trying to justify someone’s relationship with sex trafficker and pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, you’re losing.


SamuelClemmens

I mean, that isn't correct? That is like saying everyone to work for the executive branch (including the military) is a bad person because Trump was the Commander-in-Chief. The nature of the relationship is important. Epstein's favorite Barista is just someone who made a bad person coffee.


BabaB0oey

Mm hmm. Pinker was part of Epstein’s legal defense, specifically finding linguistic loopholes in federal law about using the internet to lure minors into sex acts. But yeah, basically just made him a latte. Do creepy people become Sam Harris fans or does Sam Harris make his fans creepy?


HumaneSquash094

this is also true lol. you dont get into those roles because youre a good person. you get into them because youre a power hungry freak


m-sasha

If you’re making up someone’s relationship with a sex trafficker and pedophile, you’re an asshole.


BabaB0oey

Oh it’s very real. So real that Pinker is desperately trying to cancel anyone who talks about it. So many pics of them together and Pinker really went to bat for Jeff. Gotta support your friends! https://www.vice.com/amp/en/article/g5pn87/free-speech-crusader-steven-pinker-blocking-anyone-mentioning-his-epstein-ties


dontpet

Very emotive article but I finished it thinking there was limited info to think Pinker was in any way inappropriate. Just a lot of mud thrown at him.


SyntheticBlood

Yes yes, good, good. Attack the person not the argument. Let the hate flow through you.


BabaB0oey

Who’s attacking? I’m just pointing out that Steven Pinker was friends with Epstein and fought to keep a notorious pedophile out of prison. The fact that you think it’s an attack says it all.


JBoth2018

You're the one making the assertions, shouldn't you be the one justifying them?


BabaB0oey

Who’s asserting? I’m just pointing out what is in public record. Very easy to find too (despite free speech hater Pinker trying to block people who mention it). It’s important for everyone to be informed when supporting a public individual, such as knowing whether he fought hard to help a pedophile escape justice.


JBoth2018

I can't see your original comment because it's been removed so I can't quote you 100% but you said something along the lines of "Pinker and Epstein are good friends". Is that public record?


BabaB0oey

Good friends and helped him stay out of jail is what I said. Very much public record despite Pinker trying to rewrite history, as so often happens when the crimes of one’s friends are exposed. Sad that this sub is so afraid of ideas they have to remove them.


JBoth2018

So would you be able to point me to a source that shows evidence they are good friends?


TheAJx

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BigStickRixk

That interview was more contentious than I would have thought.