Point of Inquiry

Center for Inquiry

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

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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: Using Grammar as a Tool, Not as a Weapon

November 10th, 2014

Episode 441 of 538 episodes

The English language is often treated as delicate and precious, and disagreements about what is “proper English” go back as far as the 18th century. Then as now, style manuals and grammar books placed innumerable restrictions on what is and isn’t “correct,” as "Language Mavens" continue to delight in pointing out the unforgivable errors of others. To bring some fresh perspective to this remarkably heated topic (and to let some of us who are less than perfect, grammatically speaking, off the hook),Point of Inquirywelcomes Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker, author the new bookThe Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. Pinker’s previous works include such award-winning books asThe Language Instinct,How the Mind Works,The Blank Slate,The Stuff of Thought, andThe Better Angels of Our Nature. He’s been honored by such institutions as the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Institution of Great Britain, and the American Psychological Association, as well as having been named named Humanist of the Year and one ofTimemagazine’s “The 100 Most Influential People in the World Today.” And most appropriate to this episode, he is currently the chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage dictionary.

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