Steven Pinker (born September 18, 1954, in Montreal, Canada) is the Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and author of a number of popular books. He was the Peter de Florez Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT for 21 years before returning to Harvard in 2003. He earned a Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honors in Psychology from McGill University in 1976, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Experimental Psychology from Harvard University in 1979.

Pinker has written about language and cognitive science for both scientists and the public. He is most famous for his work on how children acquire language and for his skillful popularization of Noam Chomsky's work on language as an innate faculty of mind, though he and Chomsky differ on other issues. Pinker has suggested an evolutionary mechanism for this faculty, but this idea remains controversial and is rejected by Chomsky. Pinker also argues that many other human mental faculties are evolved, and is an ally of Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins in many evolutionary disputes.

His most recent book The Blank Slate was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Nonfiction and The Aventis Prizes for Science Books. In 2004, he was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People.

In January 2005, Pinker defended Lawrence Summers, President of Harvard University, whose comments about the gender gap in math and science angered much of the faculty


  • Language Learnability and Language Development (1984)
  • Visual Cognition (1985)
  • Connections and Symbols (1988)
  • Learnability and Cognition: The Acquisition of Argument Structure (1989)
  • Lexical and Conceptual Semantics (1992)
  • The Language Instinct (1994)
  • How the Mind Works (1997)
  • Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language (1999)
  • The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (2002)
  • The Best American Science and Nature Writing (editor and introduction author, 2004)
  • Hotheads (2005)