I’m sure that this reminder of my article in Significance will awaken warm memories in many of you.
In it, I used an article of Pasquale Cirrilo and Nassim Nicholas Taleb to help me make my case. I think that the Cirillo-Taleb paper is quite interesting. However, it is not in any way a shoot-down of Steven Pinker’s masterwork, The Better Angels of our Nature, as Cirillo and Taleb like to claim. In fact, I argued in an earlier STATS.org article that there isn’t even any great contradiction between Cirrilo-Taleb and Better Angels.
I seem to have provoked Cirrilo and Taleb who wrote a protest letter to Significance about my piece. To me, it feels like my main crime is that I didn’t dismiss Pinker as an incompetent writer of “popular science.” Or perhaps the issue is that my short piece leaned more heavily on Better Angels than it did on Cirrilo-Taleb. In any case, I don’t think that Cirrilo and Taleb help themselves very much with their letter.
Steven Pinker and I now have a joint reply to Cirrilo and Taleb in the current issue of Significance.
Please have a look.