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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: 0.7 x 5.5 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #242,723 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

211 of 227 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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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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183 of 197 people found the following review helpful By J. Bone on October 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is great fun. It is both a wide-ranging and slightly audacious romp through the field of evolutionary psychology and a compelling illustration of the explanatory power of the theory.
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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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241 of 262 people found the following review helpful By David J. Lang on December 31, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Although some of the theories are still in fledgling stages and research is thin, they are none the less compelling and exciting to read about. Then again, many of the other theories have been well researched, peer-reviewed and tested. The author(s) do a good job of pointing out the evidence, validity, and assumptions regarding each. The format is simple and intuitive, very well put together. This book is basically a primer for people interested in evolutionary psychology with some fascinating insight and entertaining bits of information thrown in. It's excellent and I seriously couldn't put it down. I read the book from cover to cover in less then three days.

Warning: This book is not PC. The author(s) make a well argued case for this up front. Some of the material can be offensive to some people but the true message is the evidence of science, not our emotional reactions to it. If you can let go of your emotional attachments to a few social paradigms and review the evidence logically, you'll be OK. If not, this may not be the book for you. By the way, it does not confirm any particular racial biases or abilities, etc. Quite the opposite. It exposes that the cultural kit and the abilities we share are universal across all of humanity. So no, this is no eugenics revival or anything sad and unscientific like that.

The other issue I've noticed with certain readers is that they apply a very egotistical view to the theories. For example, I don't personally like blonds any more than brunettes. I am a statistical anomaly, just like many other people are. Simply because I don't share the majority view point of subjects tested the world over, does not mean that the results of the testing are invalid or that a trend significant enough to warrant some explaining does not exist.
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