Harvard professor and cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker's new book, Enlightenment Now, has sparked a debate on how we see the world.

While wars and poverty continue to affect millions around the world, Pinker argues that both are in decline and challenges readers to see "how amazing our world has become".

"Any aspect of human well-being that you measure has shown an increase," he says. "We live longer, more of us go to school, life is safer, fewer of us die in wars."

According to Pinker, humanity's progress can be attributed to reason and science, ideas he says were expressed in 18th-century Europe, during a period widely referred to as the Enlightenment. 

Pinker relies heavily on data to support his argument that prosperity is rising in the world. When challenged on the types of data chosen, particularly his use of the $1.90 extreme poverty line set by the World Bank, Pinker denies that other measures reveal more poverty.

"No matter what cutoff you set, the direction is downward," he says. "Billions of people have been added to the world as a whole. What's relevant is the proportion."

Pinker's views on climate change, expressed in his book, have also drawn criticism. "It's not irrevocable," he says. "The trend is in the wrong direction, but that doesn't mean that nothing could work."

Watch part two of UpFront's interview with Steven Pinker here.

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Source: Al Jazeera News