Rachel Toor in the Chronicle of Higher Education:
Steven Pinker is about as close as you can come to being an academic celebrity. The Harvard professor of psychology has written seven books for a general readership in addition to his scholarly work, which is wide-ranging. Pinker frequently writes about language for The New York Times, The Guardian, Time, and The Atlantic, and also tackles subjects such as education, morality, politics, bioethics, and violence.
All of which makes him a prime candiate for this Q&A series, Scholars Talk Writing.Listing all his honors and awards could cause us mere mortals to feel inferior; you can find them on his website, Stevenpinker.com (where you’ll also see that he has a great head of hair).
Perhaps the most important thing for writers from across the disciplines to know about Pinker is that he has a recent book: The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, which should be required reading. (An excerpt can be found here.)
Who are the writers who influenced you in terms of your own prose?
Pinker: Since many people are under the misconception that you have to write badly in academia to be taken seriously, I’ll just mention some renowned scholars in my own field whom I read as an undergraduate and who were sparkling prose stylists…