Foreword by David Sloan Wilson
Author of Evolution for Everyone
Preface by Jim Phelps, MD,
Author of Why Am I Still Depressed? and Founder of PsychEducation.org
"A fascinating scientific and personal exploration of the roots of evil, filled with human insight and telling detail."
STEVEN PINKER, Johnstone Professor, Harvard University
Author of The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works
and The Stuff of Thought
“Whatever you might believe about the role of genetics versus environment, Evil Genes
will take you somewhere you haven’t been. Barbara Oakley brilliantly reveals the falseness of one of the ego's evil little lies: That all our behavior is decided by us.”
GAVIN DE BECKER
Bestselling author of The Gift of Fear
"This work of popular science writing strikes the right tone, digesting a wide range of scientific material while telling a crackling good tale."
QUARTERLY REVIEW OF BIOLOGY
Have you ever met a person who left you wondering, “How could someone be so twisted? So evil?” Prompted by clues in her sister’s diary after her mysterious death, author Barbara Oakley takes the reader inside the head of the kinds of malevolent people you know, perhaps all too well, but could never understand.
Starting with psychology as a frame of reference, Oakley uses cutting-edge images of the working brain to provide startling support for the idea that “evil” people act the way they do mainly as the result of a dysfunction. In fact, some deceitful, manipulative, and even sadistic behavior appears to be programmed genetically — suggesting that some people really are born to be bad. But there are unexpected fringe benefits to “evil genes.” We may not like them — but we literally can’t live without them.
Oakley deftly ties together the big picture implications of revolutionary neuroscientific and genetic discoveries, showing the eerily similar behavioral tics of Mao, Stalin, Hitler, and Slobodan Milosevic. The dramatic recent scientific findings presented in Evil Genes shed light not only on dictators far afield, but on politics at home, as well as business, religion, and everyday life. In fact, history itself has been shaped by the strange confluence of genes and environment that science is just now beginning to understand.
Oakley links the latest findings of molecular research to a wide array of seemingly unrelated historical and current phenomena, from the harems of the Ottomans and the chummy jokes of “Uncle Joe” Stalin, to the remarkable memory of investor Warren Buffet. Throughout, she never loses sight of the personal cost of evil genes as she unravels the mystery surrounding her sister’s enigmatic life — and death.
Evil Genes is a tour-de-force of popular science writing that brilliantly melds scientific research with intriguing family history and puts both a human and scientific face to evil.
FURTHER PRAISE FOR EVIL GENES:
"From historical figures, through the science of neurotransmitters and neuroimaging, and ultimately to events in her own life, Oakley interweaves many ideas to present a fascinating treatise on the nature of evil in the world. Using an exceptionally easy and readable style, Oakley challenges us to think about evil, the interaction of complex forces of nature and the painful events of history, in a unique way."
KENNETH R. SILK, MD, Professor of Psychiatry
University of Michigan Medical School
"This story is not only good science writing, it's also achingly personal, as Oakley recounts the story of her selfish sister and relates it to what science is revealing about the way our brains work and how genes influence even our ability to tell right from wrong. It's not often that a book about science can also break your heart - Oakley's achievement is astonishing."
ORSON SCOTT CARD
Award-winning author of Ender's Game,
Enchantment, and Empire
Book Binding: Paperback
Shipping Weight: 1lbs
Barbara Oakley, PhD, has been dubbed a female Indiana Jones — her writing combines worldwide adventure with solid research expertise. Among other adventures, she has worked as a Russian translator on Soviet trawlers in the Bering Sea, served as radio operator at the South Pole Station in Antarctica, and risen from private to regular army captain in the U.S. Army. Currently an associate professor of engineering at Oakland University in Michigan, Oakley is a recent vice president of the world's largest bioengineering society and holds a doctorate in the integrative discipline of systems engineering. Her books include Cold-Blooded Kindness, Evil Genes, Hair of the Dog, and Pathological Altruism.
For more about Barbara Oakley, visit www.BarbaraOakley.com.