Abrams Press | 2019
Opening Thesis: Evil is just a misunderstanding.
Main Evil: Apparently pedophiles aren’t that bad?
Thesis Conclusion: Shockingly shallow.
I really wanted to like this and I’m having a hard time with the rating, because I didn’t like this, and frankly parts of it are so off-putting I want to toss it out a window.
But it’s not a bad book either in terms of writing quality.
My biggest problem really comes down to the fact that this book is not about the science behind humanity’s dark side, as the cover suggests.
I wanted to learn about the brain, human chemistry, nature vs nurture; I wanted case studies and scientific journals and theories and experiments. What I got was the author explaining why evil is subjective and nothing is really bad because all humans fuck up. The overall theme boils down to “rethinking evil.”
While that may be a provocative topic to tackle, I wouldn’t have necessarily started the book with the argument that we should reconsider labelling Hitler as evil.
There is actually very little science-backed study and explanation in this book. She invokes the Milgram Experiment to discuss the banality of evil, and then uses the Stanford Prison Experiment to explore group-think, but never mentions the many issues with that study that led to it being discredited. Shaw doesn’t do a very good job at tying the referenced studies to the points she’s trying to make; they are loosely thrown together and barely make a correlation.Continue reading “Review: Evil – The Science Behind Humanity’s Dark Side by Julia Shaw”