Human beings have unlocked the laws of nature and dramatically increased life expectancy … yet still swallow fake news, cling to conspiracy quackery and regularly descend into violence.

Are we simply wired to be little more than cavemen?

Absolutely not, argues renowned psychologist Dr. Steven Pinker. We have all the necessary tools for logic and critical thinking. We don’t always use them.

Following the release of his new book, Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters, Pinker discussed, with Sinai and Synapses founder Rabbi Geoffrey A. Mitelman, how the seemingly rational pursuit of individual and group self-interest can lead us to lose our minds — and how we can develop collective rationality to curb such baser instincts.

The Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard, Steven Pinker is the author of 12 books and was one of Foreign Policy’s World’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals and Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World Today.

This conversation was hosted by the Streicker Center at Temple Emanu-El in New York City.

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