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Quotation of the Day…

… is from pages 169-170 of Steven Pinker’s excellent 2018 volume, Enlightenment Now (footnote deleted):

During the high-crime decades, most experts counseled that nothing could be done about violent crime. It was woven into the fabric of a violent American society, they said, and could not be controlled without solving the root causes of racism, poverty, and inequality. This version of historical pessimism may be called root-causism: the pseudo-profound idea that every social ill is a symptom of some deep moral sickness and can never be mitigated by simplistic treatments which fail to cure the gangrene at the core. The problem with root-causism is not that real-world problems are simple but the opposite: they are more complex than a typical root-cause theory allows, especially when the theory is based on moralizing rather than data. So complex, in fact, that treating the symptoms may be the best way of dealing with the problem, because it does not require omniscience about the intricate tissue of actual causes.