The Rise of the Trophy Professor - Boston Globe
The Rise of the Trophy ProfessorWhy recruiting faculty superstars is big business on campusBy Patrick HealyCognitive psychologist Steven Pinker of Harvard. (Photo / Joel Benjamin) JUNE 29, 2003STEVEN PINKERField:
Language and the mind.Star power:
Eminent cognitive scientist and best-selling author (How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, among others) who argues that behavior is largely predetermined by genetics.Career path:
MIT > Harvard.Quote:
"For verbs, MIT is the best place; but for human nature and its implications, Harvard is the most important place."Harold Krewer / U of I Photo Services
"Universities tend to follow the opportunities and compete in a field that's due to make an advance in the next five to 10 years," says Steven Pinker, a prominent cognitive psychologist whom Harvard poached from MIT in April. Today, "it's very hard to brag or promise benefactors that the next big breakthrough will be an analysis of Dante."
Among the newest superstars is Steven Pinker, the MIT language and mind specialist and a best-selling author who is now heading to the psychology department that William James and B. F. Skinner built at Harvard. As a sign of his crossover status, Pinker was actually first courted for a job in Harvard's English department by two of its stars, Skip Gates and Elaine Scarry. Over jambalaya and beers at the Green Street Grill in Cambridge, Pinker told them about his latest book, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, which carefully suggests that genetics