The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation
by Matt Ridley
Viking Press, 1997
from the publisher
If, as Darwin suggests, evolution relentlessly encourages the survival of the fittest, why are humans compelled to live in cooperative, complex societies? In this fascinating examination of the roots of human trust and virtue, a zoologist and former American editor of the Economist reveals the results of recent studies that suggest that self-interest and mutual aid are not at all incompatible. In fact, he points out, our cooperative instincts may have evolved as part of mankind’s natural selfish behavior—by exchanging favors we can benefit ourselves as well as others. Brilliantly orchestrating the newest findings of geneticists, psychologists, and anthropologists, The Origins of Virtue re-examines the everyday assumptions upon which we base our actions towards others, whether in our roles as parents, siblings, or trade partners. With the wit and brilliance of The Red Queen, his acclaimed study of human and animal sexuality, Matt Ridley shows us how breakthroughs in computer programming, microbiology, and economics have given us a new perspective on how and why we relate to each other.
“If my The Selfish Gene were to have a volume two … devoted to humans, The Origins of Virtue is pretty much what I think it ought to look like.”
The Essential Difference: The Truth about the Male and Female Brain
by Simon Baron-Cohen
Perseus Publishing, 2003
from the publisher
We all appreciate that there are differences in the typical psychology of men and women. Yet underlying these subtle differences, Simon Baron-Cohen believes, there is one essential difference, and it affects everything we do: Men have a tendency to analyze and construct systems while women are inclined to empathize. With fresh evidence for these claims, Baron-Cohen explores how these sex differences arise more from biological than cultural causes and shows us how each brain type contributes in various ways to what we think of as “intelligence.” Emphasizing that not all men have the typically “male” brain, which he calls Type “S,” and not all women have the typically female brain (Type “E”), Baron-Cohen explores the cutting-edge research that illuminates our individual differences and explains why a truly “balanced” brain is so rare. Filled with surprising and illuminating case studies, many from Baron-Cohen’s own clinical practice, The Essential Difference moves beyond the stereotypes to elucidate over twenty years of groundbreaking research. From gossip to aggression, Baron-Cohen dissects each brain type and even presents a new theory that autism (as well as its close relative, Asperger’s syndrome) can be understood as an extreme form of the male brain. Smart and engaging, this is the thinking person’s guide to gender difference, a book that promises to change the conversation about-and between-men and women.
Second Nature: Economic Origins of Human Evolution
by Haim Ofek
Cambridge University Press, 2001
from the publisher
This book spans two million years of human evolution and explores the impact of economics on human evolution and natural history. The theory of evolution by natural selection has always relied in part on progress in areas of science outside of biology. By applying economic principles at the borderlines of biology, Haim Ofek shows how some of the outstanding issues in human evolution, such as the increase in human brain size and the expansion of the environmental niche humans occupied, can be answered. He identifies distinct economic forces at work, beginning with the transition from the feed-as-you-go strategy of primates, through hunter-gathering and the domestication of fire to the development of agriculture. This highly readable book will inform and intrigue general readers and those in fields such as evolutionary biology and psychology, economics, and anthropology.
Malignant Sadness: The Anatomy of Depression
by Lewis Wolpert
from Scientific American
Wolpert, a professor of biology as applied to medicine at University College London, is a recovered victim of clinical depression. “It was the worst experience of my life,” he writes. “Severe depression borders on being beyond description: it is not just feeling much lower than usual.” Wolpert tells of his experience and treatment in this book, which he wrote with a fourfold purpose: “to help those who are living or working with a sufferer to understand the nature of depression, since depressives, whether parents, children or companions, are not easy to be with; to help depressives to understand themselves; to remove the stigma associated with depression; and, foremost, to try and understand the nature of this dreadful affliction in scientific terms.” He examines, among other things, the factors that make people vulnerable to depression, why about twice as many women as men suffer from severe depression, and the psychological and biological theories that have been advanced to explain the disease. Acknowledging that psychotherapy succeeds about as well as medication in treating depression, he foresees that it “is nevertheless in relation to chemical processes occurring in the brain that future research is very promising, together with the development of new drugs to restore normal function of the neurons involved.”
Divided Labours: An Evolutionary View of Women at Work
by Kingsley Browne
Yale University Press, 1999
“The ‘glass ceiling’ metaphor describes an invisible barrier that prevents women from reaching the top levels of management. It assumes that the causes for this are within the organization and unrelated to inherent sex differences, says Kingsley Browne in this analysis of the differences between men and women in the workplace. Discussions of the “gender gap” in earnings also assume that the gap is due to employer oppression of women. But sex discrimination alone cannot account for these disparities, Browne contends. In a sophisticated application of evolutionary theory to human behavior, he argues that basic biological sex differences in personality and temperament account for much of the gender gap and the glass ceiling in the modern labour market.”
Biochemical Individuality: The Basis for the Genetotrophic Concept
by Roger J. Williams
McGraw-Hill/Contemporary Books, 1998
from the publisher
There is no such thing as an average person, we are all genetically and biologically unique. But when sperm meets egg, our characteristics are not locked in stone. This work argues that bad genes do not necessarily cause disease by themselves, and nutrition and environment can alter the outcome.
Fourty years ago Dr. Roger Williams, a University of Texas biochemist, published this groundbreaking work, which is only now coming to be accepted and understood by the medical community. Until now, generalized dietary recommendations like the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs) were the norm. This timeless classic links our biological diversity with individual nutritional needs and shows you hwo to determine and meet those needs for optimal well-being.
The Truth About Cinderella: A Darwinian View of Parental Love
by Martin Daly and Margo Wilson
Yale Univ Press, 1999
A child is one hundred times more likely to be abused or killed by a stepparent than by a genetic parent, say two scientists in this startling book. Martin Daly and Margo Wilson show that the mistreatment of stepchildren, long a staple of folk tales, has a solid basis in fact; Daly and Wilson apply the perspective of evolutionary psychology to investigate why stepparenthood is different from genetic parenthood and why steprelationships succeed or fail.
“An important book. … The implications are profound.”—Brenda Maddox, Daily Mail
“A short but fascinating book … [that] suggests that cruel step-parents are far from a myth. They are the uncomfortable, but literal, truth.”—Nigel Hawkes, The Times (London)
“The most shocking book of the [Darwinism Today] series. … Psychologists Martin Daly and Margo Wilson make a powerful argument that one of folklore’s stock characters, the abusive stepparent, has considerable basis in fact. … A logical, if brutal, evolutionary analysis.”—Publishers Weekly
“Daly and Wilson argue that step-parents lack a genetic interest in their stepchildren. … This is an illuminating illustration of the problems of evolutionary psychology.”—-R. Brian Ferguson, Natural History
The Trouble with Testosterone: And Other Essays on the Biology of the Human Predicament
by Robert Sapolsky
Touchstone Books, 1998
As a professor of biology and neuroscience at Stanford and a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” Robert Sapolsky carries impressive credentials. Best of all, he’s a gifted writer who possesses a delightfully devilish sense of humor. In these essays, which range widely but mostly focus on the relationships between biology and human behavior, hard and intricate science is handled with a deft touch that makes it accessible to the general reader. In one memorable piece, Sapolsky compares the fascination with tabloid TV to behavior he’s observed among wild African baboons. “Rubber necks,” notes the professor, “seem to be a common feature of the primate order.” In the title essay of The Trouble with Testosterone, Sapolsky ruminates on the links, real or perceived, between that hormone and aggression.
The Territorial Imperative: A Personal Inquiry into the Animal Origins of Property and Nations
by Robert Ardrey
Kodansha International, 1997
from the publisher
Three decades after it first burst onto the American scene, Robert Ardrey’s argument that animal instincts guide human behavior remains both compelling and controversial. Regional conflicts around the globe constantly demonstrate the destructive force of the drive to claim and guard a specific territory. But Ardrey goes beyond such obvious examples, insisting that many of the noblest sentiments we call human—the love of family, the willingness to sacrifice for a community larger than the self—are rooted in this instinct. This thirtieth-anniversary edition includes an introductory essay by Irven DeVore that traces the history of the debate that The Territorial Imperative has provoked and shows how deeply it continues to influence the way we think about ourselves and our society.
The Selfish Gene
by Richard Dawkins
Oxford University Press, 1990
from the publisher
Richard Dawkins’ brilliant reformulation of the theory of natural selection has the rare distinction of having provoked as much excitement and interest outside the scientific community as within it. His theories have helped change the whole nature of the study of social biology, and have forced thousands of readers to rethink their beliefs about life.
In his internationally bestselling, now classic volume, The Selfish Gene, Dawkins explains how the selfish gene can also be a subtle gene. The world of the selfish gene revolves around savage competition, ruthless exploitation, and deceit, and yet, Dawkins argues, acts of apparent altruism do exist in nature. Bees, for example, will commit suicide when they sting to protect the hive, and birds will risk their lives to warn the flock of an approaching hawk.
This revised edition of Dawkins’ fascinating book contains two new chapters. One, entitled “Nice Guys Finish First,” demonstrates how cooperation can evolve even in a basically selfish world. The other new chapter, entitled “The Long Reach of the Gene,” which reflects the arguments presented in Dawkins’ The Extended Phenotype, clarifies the startling view that genes may reach outside the bodies in which they dwell and manipulate other individuals and even the world at large. Containing a wealth of remarkable new insights into the biological world, the second edition once again drives home the fact that truth is stranger than fiction.