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Steven Pinker says our perception of how violent we are as a species is skewed. (TED)

Is The World A Less Violent Place?

by NPR/TED Staff
Mar 28, 2013 (TED Radio Hour)

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Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Violence Within Us.

About Steve Pinker's TEDTalk

Steven Pinker charts the decline of violence from Biblical times to the present, and argues that, though it may seem illogical and even obscene, given events in Darfur and Syria, we are living in the most peaceful time in our species' existence.

About Steve Pinker

Steven Pinker, a professor of psychology at Harvard, questions the very nature of our thoughts — the way we use words, how we learn, and how we relate to others. In his best-selling books, he has brought sophisticated language analysis to bear on topics of wide general interest. Pinker asserts that not only are human minds predisposed to certain kinds of learning, such as language, but that from birth our minds — the patterns in which our brain cells fire — predispose us each to think and behave differently.

His deep studies of language have led him to insights into the way that humans form thoughts and engage our world. He argues that humans have evolved to share a faculty for language, the same way a spider evolved to spin a web. We aren't born with "blank slates" to be shaped entirely by our parents and environment, he argues in books including The Language Instinct; How the Mind Works; and The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature.

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Leslie Morgan Steiner shares her story of domestic abuse at TEDxRainier. (TED)

Why Don't Domestic Violence Victims Leave?

by NPR/TED Staff
Mar 28, 2013 (TED Radio Hour)

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Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Violence Within Us.

About Leslie Morgan Steiner's TEDTalk

Leslie Morgan Steiner was in "crazy love" — that is, madly in love with a man who routinely abused her and threatened her life. Steiner tells the harrowing story of her relationship, correcting misconceptions many people hold about victims of domestic violence.

About Leslie Morgan Steiner

Leslie Morgan Steiner is a writer and outspoken advocate for survivors of domestic violence — which includes herself. Steiner is the author of Crazy Love, a memoir about her marriage to a man who routinely abused and threatened her. In it she describes the harrowing details that unfolded unexpectedly — from the moment she met a warm, loving, infatuated man on the subway, to the moment he first laid a hand on her, when he grabbed her neck just days before their wedding. Steiner also edited Mommy Wars: Stay-at-Home and Career Moms Face Off on Their Choices, Their Lives, Their Families, a collection of essays by women struggling to balance motherhood and their careers. Steiner received her MBA in marketing from Wharton School of Business and worked in marketing for Johnson & Johnson before transitioning to writing, as General Manager of the Washington Post Magazine. Steiner writes a weekly column called "Two Cents on Modern Motherhood," for the website Mommy Track'd, and she has just finished her third book, on the effect of fertility treatments on modern motherhood.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Jim Fallon's work analyzing the brains of psychopaths lead to a surprising personal discovery. (TED / Michael Brands)

What Does The Mind Of A Killer Look Like?

by NPR/TED Staff
Mar 28, 2013 (TED Radio Hour)

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Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Violence Within Us.

About Jim Fallon's TEDTalk

Psychopathic killers are the basis for some must-watch TV, but what really makes them tick? Neuroscientist Jim Fallon talks about brain scans and genetic analysis that may uncover the rotten wiring in the nature (and nurture) of murderers. In a too-strange-for-fiction twist, he shares a fascinating family history that makes his work chillingly personal.

About Jim Fallon

Jim Fallon, professor of neuroscience at the University of California, Irvine, looks at the way nature and nurture intermingle to wire up the human brain. Through his research, Fallon explores the way genetic and in-utero environmental factors affect the way the brain gets built — and then how individuals' experience further shapes its development. He lectures and writes on creativity, consciousness and culture, and has made key contributions to our understanding of schizophrenia, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. Fallon has turned his research toward the subject of psychopaths — particularly those who kill. With PET scans and EEGs, he's beginning to uncover the deep, underlying traits that make people violent and murderous.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Philip Zimbardo explains his infamous Stanford Prison experiment at a TED conference. (Courtesy of TED)

Why Do Good People Do Bad Things?

by NPR/TED Staff
Mar 28, 2013 (TED Radio Hour)

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Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Violence Within Us.

About Philip Zimbardo's TEDTalk

Philip Zimbardo knows how easy it is for nice people to turn bad. He also understands the flip side: how easy it is to be a hero, and how we can rise to the challenge.

About Philip Zimbardo

Philip Zimbardo was the leader of the notorious 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment — and an expert witness at Abu Ghraib. His book The Lucifer Effect explores the nature of evil; now, in his new work, he studies the nature of heroism. Philip Zimbardo knows what evil looks like. After serving as an expert witness during the Abu Ghraib trials, he wrote The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil. From Nazi comic books to the tactics of used-car salesmen, he explores a wealth of sources in trying to explain the psychology of evil. A past president of the American Psychological Association and a professor emeritus at Stanford, Zimbardo retired in 2008 from lecturing, after 50 years of teaching his legendary introductory course in psychology. In addition to his work on evil and heroism, Zimbardo wrote The Time Paradox, exploring different cultural and personal perspectives on time.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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