Customer Review

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh, yes, five stars. A real eye-opener, 11 Nov 2011
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This review is from: Deceit and Self-Deception: Fooling Yourself the Better to Fool Others (Hardcover)
The book is true to its title. It argues the case for the idea that we fool ourselves so that we can fool others better. And it sticks to that argument pretty closely.

The author sees the reasons for deceit in evolutionary genetics. Therefore some evidence comes from other organisms, including stick insects and monkeys, as well as humans.

What amazed me is how such a simple idea can be related to so many experiments, many of which where originally carried out for completely different reasons. After a slow start, most of the book describes experiment-after-experiment, and observation-after-observation, in a page-turning caliadascope. It is as if the central idea was some sort of super-magnet that attracted evidence from far-and-wide to achieve a critical mass.

And it actually seems to pan out in real life. I now understand more of the odd behavior of people, from politicians to my own family. This is the sort of stuff that judges and juries should know. And if there was anyone to keep our politicians and economists in check, this is the sort of stuff that they should know.

At risk of being invited to copy-edit Roberts - oops, Robert's - next book, the only thing that spoilt my enjoyment was struggling with some of the phrasing and punctuation. It kept forcing me to re-read bits to get the meaning.

Most authors have an aloof style: If they write about racial prejudice, for instance, they are not prejudiced. Neither are we, the reader, of course. It is Other People who are prejudiced. Well, there is none of that nonsense with Robert Trivers. He often uses his own, less-than-ideal, behavior to illustrate deceit. He is irreverent, some might even say coarse, and comes across as somewhat street-wise, as well as academic.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Mar 2012 22:42:06 GMT
Calaidascope?

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Mar 2012 11:01:26 GMT
John Penfold says:
Oops, kaleidoscope. Well, he won't be asking me to review the next one for spelling will he :-)
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