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The Murderer Next Door: Why the Mind Is Designed to Kill Paperback – April 25, 2006
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Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Buss spoke at the conference, and I had some big problems with what he said, but I thought I would give benefit of the doubt until I had the book in my hands.
My first big problem is the conflation of murder and war. While we can of course say that both entail violence, and that both seem to be behaviors selected for by evolution, that is all we can say. In most other aspects these behaviors are widely divergent in motivations and psychologies. Sure, sometimes men kill over women on the individual level and sometimes they take women as the spoils of war, but they also often kill all the women along with the men. While leaders may gloat about taking enemy women (as he notes), the rank and file have little choice about going to war. It is that or be exiled from the group, or see the group overrun and die with your family. Certainly over evolutionary time the choices in war were often win or die, and so women are not exactly central to the matter. One also should note that there is a huge psychological difference between killing over a woman one is, or has been, close to and killing with the hope of capturing women from an enemy group. Most critically, men go to war most often out of pro-social altruistic motives and group commitments, while many murders are anti-social selfish acts. One might just as well conflate love and lust too, if we are after confusion instead of insight.
And if Buss wants to use the term "murder" in the all-inclusive way he does throughout the book, then he must be consistent in that usage. He is not. On page 27 he states that "...the evolutionary war theory does not explain...Read more ›
The reader should be a little leary of the "killing module" idea. It is not necessary to posit a murder module to account for homicide. Also, Buss is less than clear about the specific 'darwinian algorithims' operating this circuitry. Is there circuitry for each different kind of homicide- as most hardcore modularists would insist? Or, is there a general circuit for murder? Buss vacilates and doesn't clarify this issue at all.
Either way, the murder module idea is fairly vapid. Why, as another reviewer pointed out, posit such a device if it seldom works? Suicide levels are everywhere much higher than homicide. What does this say about the adaptiveness of such modules? I am not sure.
The best thing about the book is the inclusion of many case studies. Buss had individuals write about their homicidal fantasies. Who did they want to kill? Why? What stopped them? Many of these vivid accounts are highly graphic and disturbing. Anyone who has ever thought about killing someone will enjoy these accounts! They also make for easy, maliciously fun reading.
If you are a tyroe, by all means enjoy this book. If you are seasoned in the field, stick to the more academically rigorous material.
(see other reviewers for more technical critisims. There are many that can be made, but that takes me beyond my reviews purpose.)
I just find myself wondering about some of the claims made in it:
1. that as many as 12% of children in middle class families are fathered by men who are engaging in "mate poaching" (that seems terribly high)
2. that extramarital affairs for both men and women are motivated by the desire to either pass on genes or have a child with "good" as opposed to "bad" genes. I can't help but think this is really unlikely (that there are many other cues to unfaithful behavior)
3. that man and woman are more or less slaves to their reproductive instincts. If this was the case, how does this explain sexual behavior where the production of children is out of the question (oral sex)?
4. Here's another thought. If all male behavior boils down to the imperative of passing one's genes to as many women possible and deterring rivals from doing the same to one's "own" women, what about the phenomenon of males acting as pimps?
5. Here's yet another thought. I was really surprised to read that the author considered Diane Downs, the woman who shot her three children --killing one and crippling another-- as fitting the profile of a "perfectly normal next-door [neighbor] with no apparent evidence of psychological abnormalities."
If the author had carefully read Ann Rule's book about Downs ("Small Sacrifices"), he would have seen that Downs was a VERY strange woman and not somebody I would ever describe as the stuff of "perfectly normal next-door neighbors."
6.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A heap of anecdotes, sprinklings of research, an abundance of conjecture, and a dollop of bulls*** and viola, you've got this book. Read morePublished 25 days ago by Dr. D. Watkins
The book introduces a lot of intriguing ideas, and is worth reading for that reason alone even if you don't ultimately end up agreeing with the author. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Daniel
I absolutely loved this book, Ive read it a few times and its great.Published 13 months ago by Elle
The author asks why we murder -- why all of us are capable of murder -- and uses evolutionary psychology (EP) to explain much of the answer. For me the logic is compelling. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Steve Kohn
David Buss is to EP what Richard Dawkins is to Ethology.
This book is another remainder of his devoted study to
the question of human nature from a biological point... Read more
I just checked this out from the library and I have to say, its probably the worst book about murderous psychology I have ever read. Read morePublished 17 months ago by C. Park
I was looking for a tale of insite and how to keep my family safe, good luck at trying to finish this book. Better to get a cookie and place it at your door. Read morePublished on January 3, 2014 by blah
David M. Buss is an evolutionary psychologist. This is a controversial field of science that assumes that the psychology of the mind has been shaped by evolution. Read morePublished on May 24, 2013 by Carl Robinson
This book is fantastic at providing a whole new understanding of why a human being commits murder. If you want a different theory that explains elements of the human mind along... Read morePublished on December 5, 2012 by rmay