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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 Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 4, 2007
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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.
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)
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Top Customer Reviews
Some many people make better arguments for the book then I could.
Read with an open mind. People try to make the findings into more then there are...i.e. beautiful and smart. Hint; The connection is due to environmental forces of time and place not because ugly people are dumb.
* Thought provoking. You will talk about this, as I have, with a lot of folks.
* The chapters early on are great reading.
* I found myself agreeing with much more than expected in this work. As a Christian who does not hold to a macroevolutionary view of the world, there is a lot here - almost all of it in fact - that lines up with a traditional Christian view of life. Freakish but true.
* Book fizzles out towards the end. The last two chapters in particular, on politics and religion, are hardly worth reading. In contrast to the earlier chapters, they seem very heavy on hypothesis and light on data.
* It is meant to be a popular introduction, but feels too dumbed down at points.
* The bias towards what the data means is clear in the book, and a stretch in many chapters. Some things will ring true from your own experience, some very false. Sex is important in human life, but from the author's perspective it is everything.
* I don't think that women will enjoy this as much as men. The dominant focus is on men, and part of why its a good read is because so much of it can be easily confirmed through personal experience.
* I hate books that constantly self-reference other chapters, and this is one of the worst offenders. On one page, there are three different chapters referenced. Ugh. Assume your reader remembers that they just read that a chapter ago, or at least knows how to use an index or a table of contents.
Overall, its a very interesting read, sure to be controversial. I would recommend it to anyone who has a slight interest in the material, even if you think you will disagree with it - I found a lot to like, more than expected.
1. The book is written in an easy-to-read style. That, and the fact that the topics are both interesting and controversial, makes the book a quick and enjoyable read.
2. I like the evolutionary psychology approach in general, since it proposes actual mechanisms behind why people think and behave how they do.
3. I liked that the book pointed out some facets of human sexual behavior that still aren't well-understood, and should be targeted for future research. For instance, why most people in advanced nations choose to have way fewer children than they can financially support, even though reproductive behavior is supposed to be unconsciously guided by a desire to have as many children and grand-children as possible.
4. A lot of this book's reviewers criticize it for being sexist, racist, ageist, etc. I think those accusations are unfounded--the author repeatedly says that he's simply explaining what IS, not what SHOULD BE. I appreciate that the author explores topics often considered taboo and offers explanations that go beyond "white people brainwash everybody" or "men are jerks."
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE
1. The book is a bit over-confident with its application of evolutionary psychology. On a lot of topics, the author examines a strange feature of human behavior, explains how it might make sense given the insights of evolutionary psychology, cites a few pieces of data in support of its position and against the cultural position, and then moves on. So the book doesn't definitively "prove" very much, either by thoroughly supporting its position with a lot of evidence or by thoroughly debunking its opponents with a lot of evidence.
Which is fine, because the book addresses a lot of topics in a small amount of space, and thus can't explore every topic super in-depth. But the author probably should have adapted his "evolutionary psychology can explain pretty much everything" rhetoric accordingly.
2. I found his explanation of the evolutionary origin of religion unconvincing. Given that super-religious people have WAY more children on average than non-religious people, I feel like there's a more compelling evolutionary explanation than people just being risk-averse.
3. Like some of the other reviewers, I think his discussion of why blonde hair and blue eyes are considered more attractive was unconvincing. Given that non-Western peoples didn't encounter blondes until recently, how could they have evolved a preference for them?
The evidence for a evolutionary preference for young, thin-waisted, buxom women was more compelling, so he probably should have just stuck with that.
This book is a fun, easy read that examines a lot of interesting topics through the lens of evolutionary psychology. Unfortunately, partly because this book is an introductory book aimed at a popular audience, and partly because hard evidence is rare for some of these topics, sometimes his explanations aren't super well-supported. But overall, I enjoyed and benefited from the book.