Do not ever read Steve Pinker’s Twitter feed


I made the mistake. His latest 3:

  • Stop worrying about the opioid crisis! It’ll get better! Heath Ledger and Prince will rise from the grave!

  • You should probably vote for some Democrats, even though they have problems. Maybe there are a few problems on the Republican side, but I don’t see them, because my rose-colored glasses make red parties invisible.

  • It’s only a few bombs! We don’t need to worry until at least 0.05% of the public are sending bombs through the mail to elected officials.

So, really, just don’t bother reading Pollyanna Pinker. It’ll make you angrier, and we’ve got a surplus of rage right now. Just read this and laugh.

At least he’s the favorite scientist of cockroaches everywhere.

Comments

  1. kurt1 says

    Yeah, right wing terror is just a few malicious jerks performing a vindictive stunt. The media should cover real problems, like the caravan. It’s like sepsis, if they reache the border, everyone will die!

  2. ethicsgradient says

    One of these tweets is not like the others. You hate Pinker for just linking to an article that says, with heavy caveats, that deaths have turned a corner. So you don’t want any optimism to appear at all. You hate him for saying the bombs are important. So you want him to say things are awful. But when he says that although it’s vital to elect Democrats, they’re not perfect, you hate him for not saying “everything will be the for the best i nthe best of all possible worlds once Democrats are elected”.

    Shorter PZ: Hate Pinker. Doesn’t matter why.

  3. ethicsgradient says

    …should read “aren’t Important”. Of course. Well, that blunts that message, doesn’t it?

  4. lotharloo says

    If I have a bias it is against Pinker but I honestly cannot see the point of this.

    Pinker: “Overdose deaths have fallen for six months. Is it temporary or a sign of a corner turned?”

    PZ: “Stop worrying about the opioid crisis! It’ll get better! Heath Ledger and Prince will rise from the grave!”

    Absolutely nonsensical interpretation. First of all, that is the title of the link Pinker copy/pasted and second of all, it is a purposefully uncharitable interpretation. Do you have to go so low to criticize Pinker? How do you go from that “A” to your “B”? Is sharing any potentially good news a sign that we want to give up?
    “Yay! Supreme court legalized gay marriage! Hurrah!” “PZ: Oh so you are saying we should stop worrying about discrimination?”

    Pinker: “The Dems have their problems, but I agree with Tom Friedman on the imperative that they regain one or both chambers.”

    He then links to an article that concludes, “So, this year: No third party, no Green Party, no throwing up our hands and saying, “They’re all bad.” All of that’s for another day. For today, in these midterm elections, vote for a Democrat, canvass for a Democrat, raise money for a Democrat, drive someone else to a voting station to vote for a Democrat. It’s the only hope to make America America again.”

    And you connect that somehow to … “You should probably vote for some Democrats, even though they have problems. Maybe there are a few problems on the Republican side, but I don’t see them, because my rose-colored glasses make red parties invisible. ”

    Seriously WTF? How cranky are you today?

  5. says

    I don’t actually have a problem with Pinker’s optimism so much as I have a problem with the bad evidence he uses to argue it.

  6. OverlappingMagisteria says

    I agree that the tweet about the bombs is no good, but the first two seem fine to me.
    The first tweet seems like cautious optimism on opioids – its too early to know if the downward OD trend is permanent but I don’t think he’s saying it is. The second tweet is saying vote for Democrats even though they aren’t perfect, which makes sense to me. He doesn’t say anything about Republicans in that tweet, so unless there’s some context missing… (I don’t know, cause I don’t read Pinker’s twitter feed.. as instructed ;-) )

  7. weylguy says

    Leibniz said we live in the best of all possible worlds, so Trump is the best president we could possibly have right now. I can’t even imagine how much worse it could be — maybe bombs being sent to people, immigrants kicked out for fleeing violence in their countries, denigration of science and logic, lies posing as truth, oh my!

  8. consciousness razor says

    Stop worrying about the opioid crisis! It’ll get better! Heath Ledger and Prince will rise from the grave!

    Needs more question marks, like so:
    Heath Ledger and Prince will rise from the grave….???????

    Maybe there are a few problems on the Republican side, but I don’t see them, because my rose-colored glasses make red parties invisible.

    You’re just cranky. But it is true that “I agree with Tom Friedman” should only ever be said with great trepidation, under one’s breath so that no one else can hear it…. Fuck, he doesn’t give people twitterfeed, does he? (I really don’t want to know.)

    We don’t need to worry until at least 0.05% of the public are sending bombs through the mail to elected officials.

    It goes beyond not worrying. It is purportedly “not major news” and shouldn’t be reported as such, because to do so is to be “gamed.” Says some dumbass on twitter.

  9. says

    I don’t want to live in a world where multiple bombs sent to politicians and supporters of a political party is not “major news”.

  10. Saad says

    OverlappingMagisteria, #7

    The first tweet seems like cautious optimism on opioids

    The best way to be cautiously optimistic.

  11. petesh says

    @10: Yeah, that one is particularly egregious. Pernicious optimism is the name of his game, so he refuses to see that these are not random events but connected to wider and very disturbing tendencies. The opioid tweet is self-referentially trivial; the Friedman one is politically clueless; and all three are suffused with self-aggrandizing self-justification. This is the guy who writes books claiming that every day in every way we are getting better and better (tous les jours à tous points de vue je vais de mieux en mieux, as Coué put it, more than a century ago). He once had an academic career but now he seems dedicated to the proposition that he himself is the pinnacle of human achievement. Spoiler: he’s not.

  12. hookflash says

    What on Earth are you talking about!? Where does he say that we should stop worrying about the opiod crisis, or that Republicans don’t have problems? You really lose credibility with these sorts of posts.

  13. Paul Cowan says

    That was an extremely harsh critique to read. I accept your basic premise about Pinker is correct, but he’s hardly the most problematic prominent skeptic. It’s your blog PZ, and I still enjoy reading it but it really seems like it’s becoming an island of angry bitterness.

  14. Ichthyic says

    Trump has been in office nearly 2 years. TWO FUCKING YEARS.

    if you are an American, and you AREN’T angry and bitter about that?

    you’re either braindead, or taking much better drugs than most have access to.

  15. Paul Cowan says

    To be clear, I honestly feel that Pinker is a malign personality in the Skeptic community and PZ calling him out is great. But criticizing him out for sins as mild as wondering aloud if the opioid crisis is starting to improve devalues criticism of the real dangers Pinker represents in the eyes of others. PZ is a great moral voice for the freethinkers, and I want to see him continue to shine a light on the problems with our “leadership”. But I worry that people will dismiss important posts about creeps like Krauss if they read angry denunciations that seem overwrought.

    That said, it’s his blog and his playground.

  16. logicalcat says

    The first two tweets is you PZ reaching so far I should call you Mr. Fantastic. The last I agree.

  17. vucodlak says

    An antidote, if you like:

    1.) No, the opioid crisis isn’t getting better. The number of people addicted to opioids is roughly commensurate with the number of utterly hopeless, hurting people (at least, the ones with a little money). Ours is a nation rife with pain and despair, and it’s only getting worse with every passing day. Unless drastic improvements are made soon, the epidemic will spread, and many more will die.

    2.) The Democrats have serious problems, and will likely continue to suck up to Republicans even if they somehow gain majorities in both houses. By contrast, Republicans will condemn every person on Earth to horrific ends. A vote for Republicans is a vote for nuclear holocaust. A vote for Democrats might not be. This shouldn’t be a difficult decision.

    3.) Several of the president’s harshest critics, people Trump regularly labels enemies of the people, were subject to attempted assassination. Trump barely bothers to offer a vague condemnation of violence in response, before going right back to demonizing “the media.” It won’t be long until one or more of his outspoken public critics is murdered, and I fear that such an event will precipitate a new Kristallnacht.

    There now, doesn’t everyone feel better? In the future, if anyone should that they’re just feeling too optimistic, I recommend remembering the proverb that I live by: “Things can always get worse, and they probably will.”

    Maybe you’ll think I’m mad (and maybe I am) when I say I actually find that rather uplifting. After all, when you never believe that things are ever as bad as they could possibly be, it’s sort of perversely hopeful. I have other hopeful affirmations too, like “it’s not over until the nukes fly,” “I ain’t dead yet, you fuckers,” and “fuck it, at least I’m not on fire.”

    If you would like to learn more, then please purchase my inspirational book The Enduring Power of Spite: I’m Still Alive and Somebody’s Gonna Regret It, available wherever fine grimoires are unearthed for the low, low price of one soul, slightly soiled.

  18. says

    From CR:

    it is true that “I agree with Tom Friedman” should only ever be said with great trepidation, under one’s breath so that no one else can hear it….

    Possibly. Although I think I would rarely if ever say it even in those circumstances, while I would be happy to say it very loudly when dripping with excess sarcasm.

    De gustibus non disputandum est, I suppose…

  19. imback says

    We can think why the opioid crisis is being addressed at all. It’s because people identified it as a crisis in the first place. Pollyannas are useless in identifying crises.

  20. says

    A mass assassination attempt of major opposition party leadership, really an effort to decapitate a major political party, is not a goddamned “minor event.”

  21. consciousness razor says

    CD:

    Although I think I would rarely if ever say it even in those circumstances, while I would be happy to say it very loudly when dripping with excess sarcasm.

    Well, taste is in the eye of the beholder, etc., but it’s still too risky. Have you not considered the calamities which may ensue, if for instance some poor child hears and misinterprets you? Think of the children.*

    I don’t want to Godwin this, but it’s almost like shouting “Trump/Pence 2016!” in your most sarcastic voice several years ago, to a dude who said he was planning to waste his vote on Rand Paul again. The moment of happiness you may personally derive from it is hardly a justification … am I wrong?

    *That’s sarcasm too, but a more self-deprecating variety. The interpretation isn’t so clear. It’s not like I really hope you won’t think of the children.

  22. unclefrogy says

    @19
    you reminded me of one of my favorite songs by one of the greatest singer song writers ever

    uncle frogy

  23. says

    I think the “opioid crisis” is just a symptom of something larger that we, as a nation, are trying to ignore or avoid.
    Vucodlak @9 put it very well:

    Ours is a nation rife with pain and despair, and it’s only getting worse with every passing day. Unless drastic improvements are made soon, the epidemic will spread, and many more will die.

    We’re having a national mental health crisis, and it’s not exactly easy to find a good therapist when you’re barely scraping by. Drugs are literally cheaper than therapy. So people self-medicate with whatever they can get hold of — alcohol, opioids, cannabis — and sometimes that self-medication has deadly results.

Leave a Reply