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The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty (Paperback)
A groundbreaking and challenging examination of the social, cognitive, neurological, and biological roots of psychopathy, cruelty, and evil
Borderline personality disorder, autism, narcissism, psychosis: All of these syndromes have one thing in common--lack of empathy. In some cases, this absence can be dangerous, but in others it can simply mean a different way of seeing the world.In The Science of Evil Simon Baron-Cohen, an award-winning British researcher who has investigated psychology and autism for decades, develops a new brain-based theory of human cruelty. A true psychologist, however, he examines social and environmental factors that can erode empathy, including neglect and abuse.
Based largely on Baron-Cohen's own research, The Science of Evil will change the way we understand and treat human cruelty.
About the Author
Simon Baron-Cohen is Professor of Developmental Psychopathology in the departments of Experimental Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge. He is the Director of the University's Autism Research Centre, and a Fellow of Trinity College. He has received the Spearman Medal, the May Davison Award for Clinical Psychology, and the Presidents Award from the British Psychological Society. He has also won the McAndless Award from the American Psychological Association. His previous books include The Essential Difference and Mindblindness. He lives in Cambridge, England.
"A simple but persuasive hypothesis for a new way to think about evil."—New York Times
"The Science of Evil contains a huge amount of useful information for a rather short read...it's an important early step in building a more robust understanding of our species at its most horrific."—Boston Globe
"Attractively humane...fascinating information about the relation between degrees of empathy and the state of our brains."—Terry Eagleton, Financial Times
"Ground-breaking and important.... This humane and immensely sympathetic book calls us to the task of reinterpreting aberrant human behaviour so that we might find ways of changing it for the better.... The effect...is not to diminish the concept of human evil, but to demystify it."—Richard Holloway, Literary Review
"Rigorously researched.... [Baron-Cohen's] discussion of how parents can instill lifelong empathy in their children is particularly useful."—Psychology Today
"Short, clear, and highly readable. Baron-Cohen guides you through his complex material as if you were a student attending a course of lectures. He's an excellent teacher; there's no excuse for not understanding anything he says."—The Spectator
"Baron-Cohen's professorial background shines through in the book's tone and in step-by-step, engaging prose urging both academic and lay reader alike to journey with him in scientific inquiry."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"What makes someone evil? What's the brain got to do with it? Baron-Cohen confronts the most urgent and controversial questions in social neuroscience. Both disturbing and compassionate this brilliant book establishes a new science of evil, explaining both its brain basis and development. Baron-Cohen fundamentally transforms how we understand cruelty in others and in so doing forces us to examine ourselves. Reading this book invites us to widen our own circle of empathy--compelling us to grow and comprehend, if not forgive."—Andrew N. Meltzoff, co-director of University of Washington Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences and co-author of The Scientist in the Crib: What Early Learning Tells Us About the Mind