Top critical review
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Poorly thought out... to say the least.
on September 27, 2005
I read this book as a course requirement for a Developmental Psychology class while at university. I was heavily critical of it, and as a result got off to a bad start with the professor.
Tomasello's inability to write engaging and manageable prose is his first problem (his over use of the word "conspecific" was such that I wanted to slit my own wrists everytime I read it). The second more important is that this book fails to answer the most fundamental of the questions which it addresses. That question being, what is the spark? The catalyst? Or as he refer's to it "the magic bullet". Simply, what was it that promted social learning in primitive ancestral human societies, and peer groups? In the beginning chapters, he writes as though this book is the definitive answer and then forgets about it past chapter 1. If you'll forgive the pun, he dodges the bullet completely and leaves us exactly where we started.
Those being the two major issues I had with the book are reason enough to recommend that you not read it, unless otherwise forced to by professors who thinks the sun shine's out of Tomasello's hind end. The other problems include narrow views of certain questions, and failing to address alternative answers.
Trust me, there are much better Evolutionary Psychology books available. This one needs to be placed in the 'Useless' section right along with "Dianetics".