September 18 – Happy Birthday, Steven Pinker

Posted on September 18, 2015

Ooo, one of my favorite science writers!

Actually, Steven Pinker isn't just a science writer, he's a scientist. He is an experimental psychologist, a cognitive scientist, and a linguist.

Pinker is also a professor at Harvard University. His academic specializations are visual cognition and psycholinguistics.

Uh, huh! You're right – all of that DOES mean that he's a pretty smart guy!

Okay – let's break all of that down!

  • Science writer – Actually, most scientists write papers to share their findings and theories with other scientists, but Steven Pinker is one of the practicing scientists who also takes the time to write up his and others' scientific discoveries in plain, straightforward language that the general public can understand.

  • Experimental psychologist – Someone who studies the “mental” processes of learning, memory, etc., using experiments – which are repeatable tests and observations.
  • Cognitive scientist – Someone who studies thought and learning.
  • Linguist – Someone who studies language and its structure and, sometimes, how people learn language.
  • Visual cognition – Topics such as face recognition, attention to sights and scenes, word recognition and reading, eye movement, visual memory, and more are all part of this field.
  • Psycholinguistics – The study of linguistic behavior (how people talk) and other mental processes; also, the study of learning language.

I love, not just reading Pinker, but hearing Pinker talk, too! I once got to see a presentation by him live! It was so great.

To listen to Pinker, all you have to do is check out some TED talks:

By the way, Pinker's another fellow who is almost exactly the same age as Ruby Bridges and me! Pinker was born on this date in 1954. He was born in Quebec, in Montreal, Canada, but he has apparently lived and worked in the U.S. ever since he went to Harvard for his PhD in 1979. 

Also on this date:

Birthday of the Air Force

Chile's Independence Day

Park(ing) Day

Plan ahead:

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