An Open Letter to President Barack Obama, Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Attorney General Eric Holder and Leaders of Congress

Steven Pinker

Johnstone Family Professor, Department of Psychology, Harvard University

Steven Pinker is a Harvard College Professor and the Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University,and is known for his advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind.

Pinker's academic specializations are visual cognition and psycholinguistics. In his popular books, he has argued that the human faculty for language is an "instinct", an innate behavior shaped by natural selection and adapted to our communication needs. He is the author of six books for a general audience. Five of these, namely The Language Instinct (1994), How the Mind Works (1997), Words and Rules (2000), The Blank Slate (2002), and The Stuff of Thought (2007) describe aspects of the field of psycholinguistics, and include, among much else, accessible accounts of his own research. The sixth book, The Better Angels of Our Nature (2011), makes the case that violence in human societies has in general steadily declined with time, and identifies six major causes of this decline.

Pinker has been named as one of the world's most influential intellectuals by various magazines. He has won awards from the American Psychological Association, the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Institution, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society and the American Humanist Association. He has served on the editorial boards of a variety of journals, and on the advisory boards of several institutions. He has frequently participated in public debates on science and society.