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Natural Selections: Selfish Altruists, Honest Liars, and Other Realities of Evolution Hardcover – October 1, 2007

5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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About the Author

David Barash, professor of psychology at the University of Washington, is the author of over 20 books (among them Natural Selections, The Myth of Monogamy and Madame Bovary's Ovaries) and over 200 articles. One of the earliest proponents of "sociobiology" in the 1970s, now know as "evolutionary psychology" or "evolutionary biology," he remains among its most articulate popularizers.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press (October 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934137057
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934137055
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.7 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #952,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David P. Barash is an evolutionary biologist (Ph.D. zoology, Univ. of Wisconsin), a professor of psychology at the University of Washington, and the author of 30 books, dealing with various aspects of evolution, animal and human behavior, and peace studies. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has received numerous awards. He is most proud, however, of his very personal collaboration with Judith Eve Lipton, his three children, one grandchild, and having been named by an infamous rightwing nut as one of the "101 most dangerous professors" in the United States. His dangerousness may or may not be apparent from his writing!

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Format: Hardcover
Professor of psychology and proponent of sociobiology David P. Barash presents Natural Selections, a matter-of-fact look at how human biology and evolution affect human behavior, and what this has to say about both practical and ethical dilemmas in today's world. Written in plain terms accessible to lay readers and an extra dollop of wit, Natural Selections discusses why human violence is an overwhelmingly male phenomenon (humans were almost certainly polygamous earlier in their evolution, which prompted physical strength and violent traits among males striving for domination), why something being "natural" is by no means a synonym for it being "good" (or "bad", for that matter), why racism remains a pervasive social problem (it benefits one's genes to favor one's kin-group, and those of a different race are clearly unlikely to belong to one's kin-group), and much more. A matter-of-fact accounting that does not excuse or justify immoral behavior, but rather seeks to understand its sociobiological origins, on the premise that science and knowledge of the problem's roots, not ignorance, are a necessary first ingredient to making the world a better place. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
I've read many popular science books, especially on sociobiology, and I find Professor Barash to be one of the most, if not the most accessible science writer. His books, which touch difficult subjects, employ a variety of anecdotes, jokes and analogies to put his readers at ease. The author is not afraid to describe uncomfortable evolutionary truths, like in regards to the "gang rape" behavior among ducks.

Even so, Barash is not trying to be a sensationalist, rather, by helping humans understand their evolutionary baggage, he's hoping to inspire them to monitor and resist some of the unsavory human tendencies. Human technology (i.e. nuclear weapons) and human biology may be a catastrophic combination, and we need authors like Professor Barash to remind us that we are neither angels nor beasts, we are merely human mammals.

Note:

I am referring to the audiobook edition. This book is great on audio.
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Natural Selections: Selfish Altruists, Honest Liars, and Other Realities of Evolution
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