The Science of Good and Evil

Just finished reading Michael Shermer’s The Science of Good and Evil. A few chapters in, I was excited about Shermer’s ideas and his clear expression. His explanation of the evolution of morality is a fascinating one that makes a lot of sense. While the concepts didn’t necessarily originate with Shermer, he makes them accessible.

While he doesn’t play as fast and loose with the facts as I originally thought while reading (I’d remembered a debunking of the “peaceful bonobo” story, but now can’t find it), I would recommend keeping one eye open to his biases. For example, when discussing the ratio between proliferation of pornography and rape in the US v. Japan, he cites a low incidence of Japanese rape without considering vast cultural differences and a general atmosphere of misogyny. Be aware that he leans a bit, but is generally fair.

For the concepts, I highly recommend Shermer to anyone, but particularly to folks who are tired of the theist argument that morality must proceed from religion.

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