Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters Hardcover – Sep 4 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
That mouthful of a title says it all. According to Kanazawa, a media-savvy researcher whose studies of beautiful people have been covered by the BBC and the New York Times, and the late Miller, a professor of social psychology, evolutionary psychology explains almost everything about human behavior. Proponents of what they call the Standard Social Science Model believe that the human mind is exempt from biological pressures, while evolutionary psychologists hold that people are an animal species driven by animal needs. The authors suggest that human evolution stopped when agriculture began changing the world much faster than the world could change us, and now 10,000-year-old impulses to find the right mate and produce healthy offspring control nearly every aspect of our existence, from choosing jobs to religious belief. This accessible book opens the youthful field of evolutionary psychology wide for examination, with results often as disturbing as they are fascinating. (Sept. 4)
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I will quibble about the cuckoldry rates (rates of false paternity). I think they're almost an order of magnitude too high. And at times, I think the tone of the book is a little more certain than psychologists generally are. But the authors do point out several points that are unclear or uncertain, so this certainly isn't an effort to gloss over uncertain areas. Overall, this is a great book for the general public, less so for experienced readers in the area.
The authors begin their book by telling us what Evolutionary Psychology is. It is the study of human nature. Human nature refers to the collection of components called evolved psychological mechanism or psychological adaptations. They then warn us of the 'Two Ways Of Thinking We Must Avoid.' The naturalistic fallacy is the leap from is to ought - that is, the tendency to believe that what is natural is good; that what is, ought to be. The second is the moralistic fallacy, which is the opposite of the naturalistic fallacy. It refers to the leap from ought to is, the claim that the way things should be is the way they are.
Written as a series of questions and answers, the book goes into as varied subjects as: 'Why Is Ethnic and Natinalist Conflict So Persistant throughout the World?', 'Why Is Family More Important to Women Than to Men?', 'Where Does Religion Come From?'
I want to elaborate a bit more on that last one. Apparently, religion comes from the fact that we evolved anthropomorphic tendencies. That is to say that we tend to assign meaning and purpose to things that happen to us, as if done by a being even though it might be nothing more than the wind or gravity at work. For example, if one happened to be walking in a forrest and noticed that there was some rustling going on in a bush nearby and assumed that it was an enemy, you would be alert and ready to defend yourself. However, it may have just been the wind. Now suppose that it was an enemy that was planning an attack. The person would be ready to fight. If it was just the wind, then nothing would happen and the person would continue on with his walk, albeit a bit more cautiously.Read more ›
The authors (one now deceased) have created this work mostly in Q&A format. It can be read chapter by chapter or you can pick and choose what topics interest you (and you won't be doing yourself a disservice). It is well written and engaging. Read it with an open mind, be prepared to challenge some long held preconceptions, and you will definitely not look at our species the same way ever again. Whether you are into behavioral finance, marketing, academia, or just curious, this work in invaluable.
The only thing that I didn't like about it is the oversimplification, and sometimes the over-expectation that this new science can explain everything in life. I am sure that one day this will be true, but definitely not now. So I would of appreciate the book more if it stuck to the areas where there has been a lot of research and confirmed results, rather than approaching areas of profound uncertainty (like the blond bombshells and terrorism) and presenting its argument as a confirmed science.
Still, it is a good choice for light reading and getting basic knowledge in the field.