Steven Pinker discusses the nature of academic controversies in 2019 FIRE Faculty Conference keynote

November 26, 2019

At FIRE’s faculty conference this year, we were fortunate to have Harvard University professor Steven Pinker deliver the weekend’s keynote, tying together two days of rigorous and provocative discussions on a wide variety of challenges facing the academic profession. Pinker’s keynote address draws on his long tenure in academe, touching on several heated controversies within the fields of cognitive science, psychology, and linguistics. Pinker broadens from there to an analysis of the political polarization of higher education and its implications, among them what he refers to as the moralization of intellectual hypotheses, which can both impede rigorous analysis of an idea on its own merits and stifle meaningful, well-intentioned debate. There’s much to savor and reflect on in Pinker’s keynote, which runs a little under an hour, and you can enjoy it now on FIRE’s YouTube channel:

FIRE thanks professor Pinker for delivering this year’s keynote, and again we thank the many faculty who made it such an engaging and spirited weekend of discussion. Faculty who are not already signed up are encouraged to join FIRE’s Faculty Network to receive faculty-centered updates from FIRE and to learn of new resources and opportunities available as we plan to expand our offerings.