The iron-cast rule of reading Pinker is that you will find yourself exclaiming "This is all my bum!" at regular intervals. Indeed, experienced and well-prepared Pinker readers install a sound file on their computers, to automate the process.
Readers are referred to the House of Substance for great moments in Steven Pinker jackassery.* But has the slackard proprietor updated his archives with the latest Pinkerisms? HAS HE BOGROLL. Nor has he created an animated GIF of a scampering Pinker, such as could accompany a sound-track of Yakety Sax.
Anyway, the current effusion is an Open Letter rather than a book, in which Pinker urges academics from the huge-manatee faculties to worry less about Science attempting to engulf them into its monolithic Borg-like one-size-fits-all methodology, and also to embrace the monolithic Borg-like one-size-fits-all methodology of Science, because it is far superior to their own bestial practices. In it we learn that "Descartes, Spinoza, Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Rousseau, Leibniz, Kant, Smith" were all (a) cognitive neuroscientists, and (b) evolutionary psychologists. No, really, I am not making this up.
I am happy to argue that Hume was really a Theravada Buddhist, who analysed the phenomenology of experience in terms of 'bundles' rather than 'Skandha' only because he didn't know Sanskrit...** but an Evolutionary Psychologist malgré lui? That is all my bum.
Pinker fantasises about going back in a time machine and humbling the great minds of the past with his superior knowledge:
I often long to travel back in time and offer them some bit of twenty-first-century freshman science that would fill a gap in their arguments or guide them around a stumbling block. What would these Fausts have given for such knowledge?Our sources inform us that Pinker's SF / fantasy novels remain unpublished because the level of wish fulfillment and the Mary-Sue characterisation is more than even Baen Books could accept.
-----------------------------------------------* My special favourite is uncharacteristic in that Pinker concedes the possibility of some limits to his knowledge, although he does so in the context of ascribing the same ignorance to everyone else:
#2 is flatly wrong; as indeed is #3. You would have thought he could have got at least one right.
anātman, which is why his tomb is an empty shell.