Bear with me as I preface this soon-to-be series on Steven Pinker’s five-hundred-page epic, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. The book is quite long for (meta-)scientific nonfiction, and, boy, is it dense! I would be doing all of my readers a disservice by skimming over its valuable insights–so let’s break the one-review-for-one-book structure I’ve maintained for so long. And let’s trade it in for a more suitable structure for this book, which is quite deserving of special treatment. So, instead of cramming five hundred pages into a quick post, let’s take it part by part. With that, this is part one of a six-part series on Steven Pinker’s Blank Slate:
“Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish. Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have the chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to do.” – Ricahrd Dawkins, The Selfish gene
With a Dawkins book, you order the vanilla but get a scoop of everything. From primordial soup to chess robots, the Prisoner’s Dilemma to population control, Dawkin’s classic Selfish Gene is a broad and fascinating book. Its central argument may seem of little value to the non-biologist, but the implication of a gene-centered evolutionary process, as opposed to individual-centered, are massive.
“We foist evil onto other things, too frightened to admit it is within us.” – C.G. Jung
In this riveting summary of his scientific findings, evolutionary psychologist David M. Buss asserts, quite convincingly, that previous theories on murder “simply don’t hold up.” I’m sure you’ve heard interviews on the news discussing the motive for a murderer’s crime: some claim it’s violent video games, a disconnect with religion, insanity, poor parenting, and so on and so forth. Those who claim murder has its origins in violent television shows, movies, and video games cannot explain why Continue reading The Murderer Next Door: Why Our Minds are Designed to Kill – A Book Review