Most helpful critical review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
their are MUCH better books on the evolution of cooperation in man and/or animals
on December 26, 2010
This book in an embarrassment of a "science" book. The author makes some critical errors in understanding, such as what a selfish gene is. The author seems to have only a vague idea of what selfishness and cooperation are, scientifically speaking.
The author's incredulity that animals can behave in complex ways that are similar to the behavior of humans is offputting to me. I would think that someone who is writing a book on cooperation in animals and humans would have been exposed to enough examples of animal cooperation that he would not find it incredible, in a condescending way. Also offputting is the author's dragging of religion into the picture, when this is not mentioned in the title or book description. I think that this brief excerpt from page 95 is a good picture of the overall tone of the book: "In some ways it should not surprise us that primates, our closest biological relative, engage in such cooperative coalitions when the benefits seem to swamp the costs. We humans certainly do -- a vivid example at the international level being the Gulf War coalition formed in the early 1990s when Iraq invaded Kuwait. The Persian Gulf seems to be a popular place for coalitions; only a few chapters into Genesis, Abraham describes a war between two coalitions in this area. Yet despite the fact that coalitions at all levels are integral to human behavior, there is something vaguely eerie about the fact that animals also behave this way. The notion that baboons are complex enough to use other baboons as tools to further their own ends is just not what most of us think about when we picture primates." So, that's a good peak at what you can expect from this book. And did you notice that he calls primates our closest biological relative? Hmm, humans are primates. Shouldn't the author know that?