Steven Pinker’s latest book is called Rationality. Rory Sutherland is The Spectator’s Wiki Man. We arranged for them to meet at the Cucumber restaurant, where they discussed the logic of monarchy, gender-bending, and why academics are unreasonably obsessed with wine.
Steven Pinker: Part of the reason I wrote Rationality was to ask, how there can be so much irrationality in an era that has the resources for unprecedented rationality. We invented a vaccine for Covid in less than a year. So why do people today believe in conspiracies like QAnon?
Rory Sutherland: Conspiracy theories aren’t always irrational, and instinctive responses can serve you well. An instinctive person with no knowledge of virology wouldn’t go into a cave full of bats.