Point of Inquiry

Center for Inquiry

Religion & Spirituality, Science & Medicine, Social Sciences, Society & Culture, Philosophy

Chart Positions

Science & Medicine 38
Social Sciences 7

Point of Inquiry is the Center for Inquiry's flagship podcast, where the brightest minds of our time sound off on all the things you're not supposed to talk about at the dinner table: science, religion, and politics. Guests have included Brian Greene, Susan Jacoby, Richard Dawkins, Ann Druyan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Eugenie Scott, Adam Savage, Bill Nye, and Francis Collins. Point of Inquiry is produced at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, N.Y.


Steven Pinker - The Stuff of Thought

October 26th, 2007

Episode 101 of 537 episodes

Steven Pinker, a renowned cognitive neuroscientist, a research psychologist, and is Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. His research on cognition and language won the Troland Award from the National Academy of Sciences and two prizes from the American Psychological Association. He has also received several honorary doctorates and many awards for graduate and undergraduate teaching, general achievement, and his critically acclaimed books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, and The Blank Slate. He is also a Humanist Laureate of CFI’s International Academy of Humanism. His newest book is The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature. In this discussion with D.J. Grothe, Pinker explores what our use of language can tell us about human nature. He discusses our use of metaphors, and what concepts may be innate, how the "language of thought" may be hard-wired in our brains. He also explains how to avoid the pitfalls of such hard-wiring, using the methods of science as the model.