jgnat: I purchased his(Pinkers) first three books at half price books. I perused "Better Angels" at the library. Just don't have time to read another Pinker book, honestly.
Since he is a thinker by temperament he believes reason can accomplish miracles. He simply hasn't lived in my world. All of the things he describes that have made this a less violent world can disappear in a nuclear exchange.
What if Russia exploded a nuclear weapon in New York City? Not using an ICBM but a small bomb that would give them plausible deniability. It could easily be blamed on terrorists. Even if it were shown that it was a Russian made bomb they could not be held accountable if there was the possibility that some desperate guard allowed access to a nuclear storage depot. It would be similar to trying to assign blame for the downing of the airplane over East Ukraine. The Russians made the missile but that's all you can say and it isn't enough to justify punitive retaliation.
I know this is the stuff of a Tom Clancy novel but that makes it even more likely. Remember Tom Clancy wrote two novels in the late 90's about pilots flying a Jet airplane into the Capitol building. There have been several movies in the last ten years that have dealt with this kind of nuclear bomb scenario. Warren Buffet said it's not a matter of if but when.
The USA is fanning the hatred against Russia. The Bric nations don't have a problem with Russia. The Europeans are being reluctantly dragged along by the USA to sanction Russia. If Russia were to pull a terrorist attack on NYC and blame it on the Islamists it would cause a global dissaster. While we are trying to recover. The USA would no longer be a problem in Russia's back yard
Suddenly, the world could revert to the violence of the ancient world.
I don't think even Pinker can be positive about the future. Actually any event based on human input that hasn't happened has a 50% chance of occurring. If you can say that some event has a 60% of occurring or not occurring you would have to know something about future events to make such a claim.