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Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters: From Dating, Shopping, and Praying to Going to War and Becoming a Billionaire Paperback – September 2, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Perigee Trade; Reprint edition (September 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399534539
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399534539
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,783 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

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. (Publishers Weekly) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This book is clearly written and a quick, easy read.
Mountain Man
I won't repeat the criticisms of the puddle-deep research portrayed (these criticisms are true).
Rebecca L. Erskine
Well, guess what: the authors don't have any citation for that piece of "evidence."
Jessica Price

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

235 of 254 people found the following review helpful By R S Cobblestone VINE VOICE on September 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
What happens when two psychologists write a book on why people do the things they do?

It gets a loooong title: Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters: From Dating, Shopping, and Praying to Going to War and Becoming a Billionaire-- Two Evolutionary Psychologists Explain Why We Do What We Do.

This book, written primarily by Alan Miller, has, as its core, a commitment to the Savanna Principle: "The human brain has difficulty comprehending and dealing with entities and situations that did not exist in the ancestral environment" (p. 21).

In other words, look to humans (or early hominids) hundreds of thousands of years ago to get a clue to why, well, if Hillary Clinton is elected President of the US, she will not have an affair.

Intriguing?

This book is going to irritate some, be the subject of water cooler conversations, be involved in harassment complaints (seriously... someone is going to use the "Savanna Principle defense"), and hit the Jay Leno show. How can it not, when it is rich with topics like:

- The human "semen displacement device" (p. 85).
- The "horny sister hypothesis" (p. 181).
- The myth of the midlife crisis (p. 140).
- Why most suicide bombers are Muslim (p. 165).
- Why do children love their parents (p. 187).

The authors revisit early humans in the savanna. What strategies, environmentally and genetically based, lead to humans making more copies of themselves than other strategies ("genetic fitness"). How did natural selection affect humans from the shoulders up?
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211 of 228 people found the following review helpful By Eli C. on November 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The authors of this book have done an excellent job giving the reader a simple overview of the relatively new field of evolutionary psychology. Unfortunately, they tend to rely on a number of gimmicks to "spruce up" some questionable theorizing. On the whole however, readers will find many traditionally liberal and conservative social assumptions not only critiqued, but in many cases demolished entirely.

Two minor grievances I had: The authors repeatedly refer to natural selection with flavorful yet somewhat incorrect language. For example, explaining the universal male preference for youthful women, they describe men as looking for the most fertile partner. Yet men have no such interest. It is the process of SELECTION which has given certain men the adaptation (desire for youth) allowing them the procreational advantage.

My other grievance concerns the reductionism with which they assault the "traditional social scientific view". Absurdly, they declare that most social scientists find little biological basis for human behavior. While their adoption of biological explanations is certainly greater and more radical, the social science "norm" lies more precisely at a middle ground between the age-old nature/nurture polarities. I'm sure they fancy themselves more courageous this way, but it's quite fallacious.

That said, however, the book is a fascinating primer on evolutionary psychology, and highly recommended.
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191 of 206 people found the following review helpful By Or Golan on November 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is really good, because besides a few repetitions it really is interesting and presents novel ideas (at least to people like me, who are not familiar with this topic) to old questions. It is really easy to understand, not too complicated, and shows the whole picture, not just the ideas the authors think are right, but the the other side as well (even tho they try their best to point out what they believe in, but thats reasonable). It really isn't biased and is a really good book, I recommend it to anyone who isn't afraid of new ideas.
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77 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Paulo Buchsbaum on April 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I know that some claims are a little bit crazy and there is no strong evidences supporting many of its claims (like Muslim suicides relation with religious and sexual life)

In other words, some parts are very interesting and others are very funny.

But the main point that the book points is strong. The natural selection of human beings basically has stopped at Savannah Age, because the last thousands years was very few time for important evolutionary changes.

There is a very strong cultural and religious pressures against any idea that the mankind, at last, is not so related to political correctness.

It hurts, but not all truth is beautiful or good. Few can support that nowadays world is a goodness and happiness land.

Several modern behaviors is illogical. The everlasting status hunting lead many people to unhappiness. The book stated that the sex is a very important force behind money, power and economics issues. It seems absolutely real but is not easy the people recognize it. In part, they are not so aware.

So I like this book very much, because it makes me think. Stay open-minded but practices skepticism and lightness. Don't take it so serious and have fun.
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249 of 271 people found the following review helpful By Michael P. Maslanka on September 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
What's the song line: is that all there is? Well, yes, pretty much according to Miller and Kanazawa in this wide ranging, interesting, and sometimes upsetting book. The Fight: are we driven by genes or by how we are raised? For them, it is the genes, no contest. Men still look for blonde women because being blonde told a man 10,000 years ago that a woman was young and thus fertile(most women with blonde hair in their youth have it turn brown as they age) and a man's brain is still wired to see it that way, ignoring the fact older women can get all sorts of cosmetic help. Same with large breasts: small ones do not sag as much as a woman ages but large ones do---thus an indication of age and less fertility. Do good looks matter? Yes they do---faces that have more symmetry are considered by our genes to be better looking(experiments with babies show they spend more time looking at these faces) and symmetry is a sign of health and a sign of health is a sign that the progeny will be healthy. And a woman will cheat for the sake of producing better looking offsping. And on it goes. A final nugget: men and women have different brains, with a man's brain big on classifying and developing systems to look at the world(thus more men and less women of science) and a woman's brain is more empathetic(thus more nurses and grade school teachers). (For a very good book on women, check out "The Female Brain,") Some of the book is likely true(genes do play a role), some of the book good only for cocktail party chatter, and some of the book destined for the dust bin. But whichever category it goes in, this is an easy to read and provocative introduction to evolutionary biology.
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