Harvard University psychologist Steven Pinker, a leading researcher in language and cognition who has been named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people, will deliver a free public lecture titled "Language as a Window into Human Nature" at the SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind at UC Santa Barbara on Feb. 2 at 4 p.m. in Corwin Pavilion.
A dynamic and entertaining speaker, Pinker will examine whether politicians can manipulate voters by the metaphors they use to frame debates; why people swear and why others take great offense in response; why legislators and regulators are passing tougher legislation to ban profanity from the airways when, at the same time, it is exploding on satellite radio, the Internet, and cable television; the use of innuendo and double speak for sensitive propositions such as bribes, threats, and sexual come-ons; and how people deal with sexual harassment, veiled threats, or bribes to politicians by lobbyists, when the propositions are not stated clearly.
His new book, "The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature," will be published in September 2007.
Pinker is the Johnstone Family Professor at Harvard.
Until 2003, he taught in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
His experimental research on cognition and language won the Troland Award from the National Academy of Sciences and two prizes from the American Psychological Association.
Pinker has also received numerous prizes and awards for his critically acclaimed books, and he frequently writes for the New York Times, Time, and Slate on subjects such as language and politics, the neural basis of consciousness, and the genetic enhancement of human beings.
He has published six books written for a general audience, including "The Language Instinct," "How the Mind Works," "Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language," and "The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature," a best-selling book.
Pinker was named one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people in 2004 and one of Prospect and Foreign Policy's 100 top public intellectuals in 2005.
UCSB's SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind brings together scholars from a broad range of academic disciplines to explore the multidimensional nature of the human mind.
It was established by a generous gift from SAGE publications, a leading international publisher for scholarly, educational, and professional markets.