Pinker to speak at UB

Published March 14, 2013

World-renowned cognitive scientist and author Steven Pinker will speak at 8 p.m. March 27 in the Center for the Arts, North Campus, as part of UB’s 26th annual Distinguished Speakers Series.

Pinker, the Graduate Student Choice Speaker, is a Canadian-born experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, linguist and popular science author who employs verve, wit and popular culture to help non-specialists understand the science behind human thought and action.

Pinker is known within the field of psychology for his theories of how cognition works; the theory of language acquisition; research on the syntax, morphology and meaning of verbs; and his criticism of neural network models of language. He popularized Noam Chomsky’s work on language as an innate faculty of mind and defends the idea of a complex human nature that comprises many adaptive mental faculties.

The accessibility of his books is one reason “The Blank Slate” and “How the Mind Works” were bestsellers and finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. His most recent book, the masterly “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined,” is widely considered an extraordinary achievement and also is a bestseller. Its insistence that the worst forms of violence have diminished worldwide, however, has ignited controversy and debate among scholars and academics, genetic determinists and some who claim Pinker has a political agenda supported by a naïve notion that violence is purely physical.

Pinker is Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard, and taught at Stanford University and MIT. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Recipient of a number of teaching prizes, he was named among Newsweek’s “100 Americans for the Next Century.”

Tickets for Pinker’s lecture may be purchased through the Center for the Arts ticket office or by visiting

Discount vouchers are available for all current and retired UB faculty and staff through TIAA-CREF, and to all members of United University Professions (UUP). Vouchers are valid only at campus ticket offices.

UB undergraduates and GSA-represented graduate students are eligible for a free ticket, while supplies last.

For more information, visit the Distinguished Speakers Series website.