Steven Pinker's Headshot

Steven Pinker

Author of The Blank Slate and How the Mind Works, Harvard professor - Panelist Blurb

"If I call myself a psychologist people immediately think of a psychotherapist, but if I call myself a cognitive scientist at least no one knows what the hell that is."- Steven Pinker, The Guardian UK.

A Harvard College Professor and the Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, Steven Pinker is a Canadian-American experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, linguist, and author interested in all aspects of language and the mind. He has written seven books, including best-sellers, The Blank Slate, How the Mind Works, The Language Instinct, and most recently, The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature.

Pinker has spent most of his career bouncing back and forth between Harvard and MIT, conducting research on language and cognition. His academic specializations are visual cognition and language development in children, and he is most famous for popularizing the idea that language is an "instinct" or biological adaptation shaped by natural selection.

Pinker frequently writes for The New York Times, TIME magazine, The New Republic, and others on subjects such as language and politics, the neural basis of consciousness, and the genetic enhancement of human beings. One of TIME magazine's 2004 "100 Most Interesting People," he has won numerous prizes for his books, his research, and his graduate and undergraduate teaching.

In 2007, he was invited on The Colbert Report and asked under pressure to sum up how the brain works in five words. Pinker answered "Brain cells fire in patterns."