Program on Science, Technology and Society at Harvard

Harvard Kennedy School of Government | Harvard University

Politics, the Brain, and Human Nature

David Brooks

Columnist, The New York Times

April 12, 2011, 5:00pm-7:00pm
Piper Auditorium, Gund Hall, 48 Quincy Street


For decades we have tried to increase high school graduation rates and college completion rates. We've tried to reduce the achievement gaps. We've tried to depolarize our economy and moderate the financial cycles. These and many other public policy efforts have produced disappointing results. This is in part because the policies were based on a partial view of human nature and a simplistic view of human capital. Neuroscientific research over the past few years has pointed toward a richer view, one in which our emotions and unconscious play a far more important role in everyday decision-making. It is time to apply the findings of science to the world of policy, morality and practice. Video of this lecture is located here.


Max H. Bazerman

Straus Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School

David Kennedy

Director, Institute for Global Law and Policy, Harvard Law School

Steven Pinker

Harvard College Professor, Department of Psychology

Moderated by

Sheila Jasanoff

Harvard Kennedy School


A video record was made of this entire talk; you may watch it in your browser by clicking this link (warning: very large MP4 file, +540MB). At some point in the near future an excerpt clip will be made.