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Pinker and Lakoff

Apparently, there is a big debate between Pinker and Lakoff going on. Both of new Lakoff’s books are still on my wish list, i.e., I have not read them yet and I have been out of the Lakoffian loop for a while – too much other stuff is vying for my attention these days.

But I have read the two articles, kindly provided by Razib here and my first impression was: “Pinker’s article is one of the most intellectually dishonest pieces of writing I’ve seen from a cognitive scientist”

Interestingly, Chris had the opposite response:

Lakoff’s reply is one of the most intellectually dishonest pieces of writing I’ve seen from a cognitive scientist

Who’s to tell?! Perhaps I am so strongly biased against Pinker that I will defend Lakoff even when Lakoff is wrong, assuming that Pinker MUST be wronger?


  1. #1 Chris
    October 7, 2006

    You know, I first titled my post, “The Devil vs. The Devil,” because I dislike both Pinker and Lakoff pretty intensely. Pinker, unlike Lakoff, has actually done some good work on language evolution with Ray Jackendoff and Paul Bloom, and The Language Instinct is a good book, while Lakoff hasn’t done anything worthwhile, but for the most part, they both have a habit of misrepresenting cognitive science. Furthermore, while I’m probably more than a little bit further to the political left than Lakoff (who’s a center-left populist liberal), I’m much closer, politically, to him than to Pinker. So my only real stake in this is the science itself, and on that, Pinker is right, and Lakoff is wrong. I don’t like actually having to say that Pinker is right, but sometimes we have to do things we don’t like to do.

  2. #2 coturnix
    October 7, 2006

    That’s what I thought…

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