- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books; Reprint edition (January 7, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780465085972
- ISBN-13: 978-0465085972
- ASIN: 0465085970
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 78 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #196,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Folly of Fools: The Logic of Deceit and Self-Deception in Human Life Reprint Edition
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Trivers's knowledge of a range of disparate subjects is impressive.... Zooming in from the evolution of group interaction to the adaptations of neurology, Trivers writes in depth about how poor our brains are at grasping anything that could be considered an objective' reality. We're constantly fooling ourselves.”
[O]riginal and important.... [The Folly of Fools] is a remarkable book, thick with ideas, yet relaxed and conversational in tone. Perhaps most remarkable is how ruthlessly Trivers confronts his own self-delusions . If we all examined our faults and foibles as honestly as Trivers does, the world probably would, as he hopes, be a more decent place.”
Engaging.... Disarmingly honest.... Trivers's book is a thoroughly good read. If his well-informed by modest approach starts a new trend, then The Folly of Fools is a welcome and rather unselfish meme.”
Self-deception has long been a dark, opaque side of our behavior, but the author brings a bright flashlight to his investigation of why we alter information to reach a falsehood.... Trivers examines our biases and rationalizations, denials and projections, misrepresentation and manipulations, and his writing is comfortable and suasive, resulting from his familiarity and command of the subject's broad application and investigative history.... A gripping inquiry. Trivers is informal but highly knowledgeable, provocative, brightly humorous and inviting.”
Looking at self-deception in broader areas like war, religion, false historical narratives, and even plane crashes, Trivers presents a convincing argument for why this type of dishonesty is as harmful to the individual as it is to society as a whole.... This provocative book examines an often unexamined subject, but one with which all readers are familiar. Recommended for professional social scientists as well as readers of popular science.”
Richard Wrangham, Professor of Biological Anthropology, Harvard University, and author of Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human
The problem of why natural selection favors self-deception is as poorly understood as it is riveting. Robert Trivers uses examples from insects to international relations to guide us to the fundamental logic. The result is a startlingly original and important book that should start a global conversation on a topic of both scholarly and personal interest.”
Richard Dawkins, emeritus Professor of the Public Understanding of Science, University of Oxford, and author of The Greatest Show on Earth
This is a remarkable book, by a uniquely brilliant scientist. Robert Trivers has a track record of producing highly original ideas, which have gone on to stimulate much research. His Darwinian theory of self-deception is arguably his most provocative and interesting idea so far. The book is enlivened by Trivers' candid personal style, and is a pleasure to read. Strongly recommended.”
John Horgan, New York Times Book Review
Trivers's scope is vast, ranging from the fibs parents and children tell to manipulate one another to the false historical narratives' political leaders foist on their citizens and the rest of the world.... The Folly of Fools reminds me of other irreducibly odd classics by scientific iconoclasts.... May [Trivers's] new book give him the attention he so richly deserves.”
New York Times Book Review
An intriguing argument that deceit is a beneficial evolutionary deep feature' of life.”
A celebrated evolutionary biologist, Trivers uses the tools of his trade to answer a basic question: Why are deception and self-deception so prevalent?.... The Folly of Fools assumes the unity of all nature and seeks to comprehend it not merely by observation and reason, but also by subjective impressions, intuition and imagination. And thus Trivers ranges across biology, anthropology, history and politics to find examples of deception and self-deception in action.”
Frans de Waal, C. H. Candler Professor, Emory University, and author of Our Inner Ape and The Age of Empathy
Here a topic very few people think about, perhaps because the degree to which self-deception permeates our lives is itself subject to powerful denials. Robert Trivers, one of the brightest minds in evolutionary biology, leaves us little escape, however. No denying: an eye-opening read.”
William von Hippel, Professor of Psychology, University of Queensland
Great books contain important new ideas, and this book is no exception. What makes Trivers' book unusual even among great books is the density of new ideas. Like other great popular press books in science, this book advances an important new idea in an entertaining and accessible manner. This book goes beyond that, however, by providing dozens of new hypotheses for those of us who have been laboring in this field for the last twenty years. In that sense, this book is not just exporting science to the lay public, but is also an important piece of scholarship.”
David P. Barash, Evolutionary Psychology
[I]t would be folly indeed to ignore the book's scientific insights, its provocative suggestions, andperhaps most of allthe sheer intellectual delight in reading something that is so cogent, so relevant to one's own daily life, and, it must be said, so damned obvious once a genius like Robert Trivers points it out! (Please note: I don't use the g-word' often, or lightly.)”
If we can convince ourselves that we are stronger, smarter, more skillful, more ethical or better drivers than others, we're a long way toward convincing other people too. This fundamental insight frames Trivers' wide-ranging exploration of deceit and self-deception in the human and animal worlds . Believing you can achieve some goal climbing a mountain, getting a new job, rebuilding an engine can give you the incentive to actually work at it. The trick, of course, is to not slide into overconfidence or blithely deny unpleasant facts behaviors which, as Trivers shows time and again, almost always precede disaster.”
David Haig, Professor of Biology, Harvard University
This is an enjoyable, thought-provoking book on how our mind systematically creates distorted perceptions of reality and how these distort our presentation of self to others. I believe the book is an important contribution to psychology and social science more generally and will undoubtedly stimulate debate on these important questions.”
[A] spirited, provocative exploration of the evolutionary logic of deceit and self-deception.... Stimulating...Trivers's study provides an energetic exploration of a perplexing human trait.”
By Trivers's own admission, many of these ideas are speculative. But even if he does suffer from over-confidencea type of self-deception more common in malesthe admirable breadth, clarity and ambition of the result more than vindicate nature's creation of the blind spot.”
The Guardian (UK)
After forty years of research Trivers wrote [The Folly of Fools] against the backdrop of a global economic meltdown caused by self-deceived, over-confident egoists grossly out of touch with reality, and when he explains how the human male drive for power and control correlates with ignorance and self-delusion, your blood runs cold.... [The Folly of Fools] is an exhilarating read: the intertwined issues of deceit and self-deception are infinite, involving positive and negative outcomes for the fool and the fooledroles that can reverse and revert without your even knowing.”
Weaving together examples from biology, psychology, history, and immunology, evolutionary theorist Robert Trivers argues that we deceive ourselves in order to better deceive others, and do so in order to survive, procreate, and generally get ahead.... [A] thoroughly researched, thought-provoking read.”
[A] provocative and wide-ranging book.... Trivers touches on wide-ranging issues: the role of evolutionary biology in the social sciences; the placebo effect; lie detectors; genocide; the scientific method. But he conveys a powerful and focused message: if we can learn to recognize and fight our own self-deception, we can avoid negative consequences at levels from the individual to the national, and live better lives.”
In The Folly of Fools Robert Trivers...explains that the most effectively devious people are often unaware of their deceit. Self-deception makes it easier to manipulate others to get ahead. Particularly intelligent people can be especially good at deceiving themselves. Mining research in biology, neurophysiology, immunology and psychology, Mr. Trivers delivers a swift tour of the links between deception and evolutionary progress.”
Read this if You're hungry for assumption-challenging explanations for your everyday behavior. Well-articulated and convincing, Trivers's theory draws on group dynamics, neuroscience, and even immunology to explain why we're all liars. Ultimately, he concludes that we're best off sensingand tellingthe truth whenever possible.”
[Trivers] probably knows more about the mechanics and meaning of deception than almost anyone else in the world, and his new book, The Folly of Fools, covers pretty much anything you'd want to know about the topic.... Expansive, smart and deep, the booka relentlessly fascinating and entertaining readwill utterly change the way you think about lying.”
Scientific American, Guilty Planet blog
Trivers is one of the greatest thinkers of our time.... Folly of Fools takes a refreshingly critical look at human behavior.... To fix some of the world's follies, we should lower the shield and better understand deception and our own self-deception by absorbing the wisdom, risky ideas, and generous admissions of his own foolishness in Robert Trivers' Folly of Fools. The truth can hurt, but deceit can, too.”
Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution blog
Brilliant, insightful, with occasional lapses of taste, quintessential Trivers, now the go-to book on its topic, recommended.”
Kai Kupferschmidt, Science
[Trivers is] an immensely original thinker in biology. His strength has been to see conflict where other people see only harmony.... Whereas others see optimism and self-deception as a defensive strategy to stay sane and happy in a harsh world, he sees it as a psychological attack mechanism, fooling yourself to better fool others,' he says.”
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"The folly of fools" is a book about deception and self-deception and just the first topics the author examines give you in advance an idea on what the whole book is about: "The illusion of control," "The construction of biased social theory," "False personal narratives," and so on. "Self-deception," the author says, "is older than language" so we can expect a lot of information on the topic of evolution. To do that, Trivers begins with our remote origins as monkeys appropriately compared and illustrated with several examples taken from other species (birds, fishes, insects and so on) that set the stage for understanding that the trait is not only about humans but also about living beings ("Deception is everywhere").
"Self-deception," says, "occurs when the conscious mind is kept in the dark." Easy and simple: there is a mechanism that govern our acts in order to gain partial or short term advantages but always with some cost. As long as we live in a social context, we are always struggling between deceptions, those that we tell to ourselves, those that we tell others, those that others tell to us and so on and on.
It is so important and transcendent the functioning of this mechanism, that far from being a tool for immediate action in the personal (and daily) interaction it is present at any level of the society as a whole. As a consequence, deception is present in the full social spectrum, from warfare to national identity and from religion to politics and economics. There is neither activity nor place where this engine is not working and making mischief.
Is it an evolving trait? Is it possible to do something about it? You can find the answers at the beginning and at the end of the book. At the beginning, Trivers tells us that "The time is ripe for a general theory of deceit and self-deception based on evolutionary logic," and at the end he asks about the convenience of fighting "one's own self deception."
In sum, this is a complete and comprehensive outlook on the topic. To me at least. Several reviews have downgraded the merits of the book so that to convey my own vision without the influence of other readers I put my impression directly --I read "The Folly" and then I wrote this.
Having said that, "The Folly of Fools" is a highly recommended reading. Well written, interesting and full of anecdotes and clever observations by the author, who, by the way, is not free from asking God, when he travels, to join him as the flight lands.
Trivers -- as a evolutionary biologist, mathematician and a (the) great Darwin's disciple -- will push you, with his colossal mind, scientific approach and some madness, to another dimension. It will change your life and the way you see the world. Be prepared.