Evil
What is it about evil that we find so compelling? From our obsession with serial killers to violence in pop culture, we seem inescapably drawn to the stories of monstrous acts and the aberrant people who commit them. But evil, Dr. Julia Shaw argues, is all relative, rooted in our unique cultures. What one may consider normal, like sex before marriage, eating meat, or being a banker, others find abhorrent. And if evil is only in the eye of the beholder, can it be said to exist at all? In Evil, Shaw uses case studies from academia, examples from and popular culture, and anecdotes from everyday life to break down complex information and concepts like the neuroscience of evil, the psychology of bloodlust, and workplace misbehavior. This is a wide-ranging exploration into a fascinating, darkly compelling subject.

Evil Details

TitleEvil
Author
ReleaseFeb 26th, 2019
PublisherHarry N. Abrams
ISBN-139781419729492
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Psychology, Science, Crime, True Crime, Mystery, Sociology, Audiobook, Philosophy, Adult, Medical

Evil Review

  • Meike
    January 1, 1970
    As this is a "popular science" book, I didn't expect to be confronted with rigorous academic postulations and intricate arguments that can only be understood by insiders, but this was way too shallow for my taste (and I am not an expert in any of the fields Shaw discusses). I really wanted to like this, but unfortunately, I didn't learn much, and Shaw's impulse to talk about herself and preach to her readers didn't help either - not because her statements are somehow wrong, but because they are As this is a "popular science" book, I didn't expect to be confronted with rigorous academic postulations and intricate arguments that can only be understood by insiders, but this was way too shallow for my taste (and I am not an expert in any of the fields Shaw discusses). I really wanted to like this, but unfortunately, I didn't learn much, and Shaw's impulse to talk about herself and preach to her readers didn't help either - not because her statements are somehow wrong, but because they are often referring to things so obvious (don't be afraid of mentally ill people! Don't perpetuate the suppression of women! Don't discriminate people because of their sexual orientation!) that I'm wondering who the reading audience for this book is. I know that there are people who cling to hateful and cliched ideas in oder to marginalize others, but will they pick up this book and have an epiphany?The basic problem of the book is probably that the concept of "evil" is so broad and partly subjective (what would you consider as evil, what merely as bad?) that Shaw is busy covering a lot of ground at the expense of depth: She talks about the concept of "evil" in the context of technology, power, the office, sexuality, murder, rape culture, the Nazis, terrorism, paedohpilia, slavery, sadism... and yes, she herself states that this exploration is based on her own interests regarding the concept of "evil". While there are some scientific studies that I had never heard of and that I found very interesting, many cases she refers to are already well-known (how often do we have to read about the Stanford Prison Experiment?).So all in all, I was a little underwhelmed by this book. And hey, all German speakers out there, if you want to get an impression what this book feels like, you can watch this clip in which Shaw (who is German-Canadian) does a "creepiness test" with late night host Jan Böhmermann: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_mzL...
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  • Joseph
    January 1, 1970
    There is an old illusion. It is called good and evil.Fredrick NietzscheEvil: The Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side by Julia Shaw is a study of evil and an attempt to define evil. Shaw is a German-Canadian psychologist and popular science writer who specializes in false memories. She started a BSc in psychology at the Simon Fraser University. She went on to complete a Masters in Psychology and Law at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. In 2009, she returned to Canada and was awarded a Ph. There is an old illusion. It is called good and evil.Fredrick NietzscheEvil: The Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side by Julia Shaw is a study of evil and an attempt to define evil. Shaw is a German-Canadian psychologist and popular science writer who specializes in false memories. She started a BSc in psychology at the Simon Fraser University. She went on to complete a Masters in Psychology and Law at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. In 2009, she returned to Canada and was awarded a Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia entitled "Constructing Rich False Memories of Committing Crime."Shaw opens with Hitler, someone that nearly everyone considers as evil; the question is why. There was no trauma in his childhood. He did not torture small animals. Even to the last, he was kind to his dog. Yet, he is responsible for the deaths of millions. Others seem to fit this mold like Charles Manson, or Josef Stalin. They have little in redeeming qualities. What is evil? Is there a definition that can be applied -- a tipping point for actions. Shaw does punctuate the chapters of the book with Nietzsche quotes that tend to imply that the answer is no. The Trolley Experiment is an excellent example of the sliding scale of right and wrong, and that experiment can be played on many different levels and settings. These experiments have no right answer many times. If letting a child die to save a person wrong, what about if ten people were saved, or one hundred? Where is the line drawn? Is someone who kills a person by accident or negligence deserving of the title of "murderer" the same as a serial killer? We all have a dark secret of some kind or something we are not proud of in our past. Should that label be made public and remain with us for our entire lives? Shaw does take some twists that are unexpected such as with Jeffery Dahmer and those who commit murder. Recidivism rates for murder are extremely low, and most murders are between people who are close. Someone who kills is doubtful to kill again. Her search for why sometimes clouds the actions. However, some crimes are of necessity. Would anyone considers Jean Valjean to be evil? Evil has changed over time. Homosexuality was considered a crime or a mental illness. Some people thought it was contagious. Some aspects of sexuality today were considered crimes in the recent past. Others remain on the taboo list. Shaw also likes using lists that make the reader feel increasingly uncomfortable to the point that each reader comes upon an action they consider evil. We all do not stop at the same point. We oppose slavery in the modern world but where is the line drawn. Paying someone a non-living wage is permissible, but slavery is evil. Killing puppies or kittens is considered evil, but the industrial slaughter of cows, pigs, and chickens is allowable. Nietzsche said, "There is no such thing as moral phenomena, but only a moral interpretation of phenomena." Although many of us can agree that evil exists at one edge of the spectrum, how far does it extend to the center? Shaw gives examples and situations to show how large the grey area is between good and evil. Time moves the marker. Differences in our own thinking and experiences create different tipping points for each of us. We all agree are that there is evil, but what is evil varies between people.
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  • Juli
    January 1, 1970
    What is evil? What makes certain choices and actions evil? Does evil exist independently? Or does it need an opposite...good...to manifest? Is evil subjective....or universal?Dr. Julia Shaw takes a close in-depth look at evil in her new book. But this isn't the sort of book that most might expect. It isn't a bloody dissection of evil behavior in detail, or a discussion of pros and cons about punishment or treatment for those who commit serious acts of violence or crime. Dr. Shaw instead looks at What is evil? What makes certain choices and actions evil? Does evil exist independently? Or does it need an opposite...good...to manifest? Is evil subjective....or universal?Dr. Julia Shaw takes a close in-depth look at evil in her new book. But this isn't the sort of book that most might expect. It isn't a bloody dissection of evil behavior in detail, or a discussion of pros and cons about punishment or treatment for those who commit serious acts of violence or crime. Dr. Shaw instead looks at the science behind human behavior. She points out in her introduction that her book is NOT about philosophy, morality, religious views or about punishment/consequences for aberrant behavior....it's about WHY human beings do the things they do, what in the makeup of human beings allows violent or evil choices, and what behaviors seem to be present in a person to make them capable of evil. Dr. Shaw breaks down the wide concept of "Evil'' into smaller pieces, using science to explain human behavior. I read my way through this tome about the nature of evil slowly and thoughtfully. I wanted to give my brain time to formulate its opinions on Dr. Shaw's theories. For me, the idea that any human being can be capable of evil in certain situations is chilling and disturbing. I'm not saying that it isn't true....I'm saying that it is a rough revelation. We all want to see ourselves as the "good'' separated from those we see as "evil'' -- murderers, rapists, criminals, pedophiles, etc. But are we really separate? Interesting theories. Very interesting facts and explanations. Definitely thought provoking, but also disturbing. I had a hard time getting through the entire book. Not because I didn't like it or believe it...but because there is a lot of hard truth and a lot to digest/think over. This book has definitely started some interesting discussions in our household....my husband and I are still debating what we think about the nature of evil and what situations might lead us to make an "evil'' choice. We had a long discussion this morning about how we perceive those who commit evil acts...do we see them as a person who committed an evil act...or do we judge them as an intrinsically evil person. Are there levels of evil? Are there really "evil'' people...and can "evil'' people have portions of themselves that are good? I think this book is going to be spurring debate in my household for some time to come. Healthy debate is a good thing! Evil: The Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side hits on some rough subjects -- sadism, murder, deviance, group violence, terrorism, effects of technology/the internet and others. I have respect for Dr. Shaw's education and her theories. I did my best to understand her points, although my educational background is not in psychology. But I think at times she goes a step or so too far....maybe tries to make things a bit too clinical? I haven't thought over it enough to know if I think that way because she actually does go too far, or if her straight forward opinions about our tendencies to be judgmental make me uncomfortable. Food for thought...and discussion...All in all, I liked this book because it really made me think. I don't necessarily agree with all of Dr. Shaw's points, but I'm at least willing to seriously think it over and try to wrap my mind around it. **I voluntarily read an advanced readers copy of this book from Abrams Press via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
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  • Krista
    January 1, 1970
    We make evil when we label something so. Evil exists as a word, as a subjective concept. But I firmly believe there is no person, no group, no behaviour, no thing that is objectively evil. Perhaps evil only really exists in our fears. I like books about the brain and human behaviour, and I thought that Julia Shaw's Evil:The Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side might give insight into what makes this “dark side” tick. But that's not really what this book is about. The TL;DR is that we are all cap We make evil when we label something so. Evil exists as a word, as a subjective concept. But I firmly believe there is no person, no group, no behaviour, no thing that is objectively evil. Perhaps evil only really exists in our fears. I like books about the brain and human behaviour, and I thought that Julia Shaw's Evil:The Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side might give insight into what makes this “dark side” tick. But that's not really what this book is about. The TL;DR is that we are all capable of doing harm to each other, each society has a different definition of “harm”, and none of us deserve to be labelled for life by the worst act we've ever done (as determined by the society we live in). I get that “othering” people as monsters does nothing to eliminate behaviour that most of us consider deviant, but with very little actual science and many snarky personal asides, this read more like an opinion piece than even Buzzfeed-level pop science. Not really what I expected or wanted. (Note: I read an ARC and passages quoted might not be in their final forms.) We may think that our labelling of others as evil or bad is rational, and our behaviour towards such individuals justified, but the distinction may be more trivial than we expect. I want to help you explore the similarities between the groups of people you consider evil and yourselves, and to engage with a critical mind to try and understand them...Let me help you find your evil empathy. It's a useful example for Shaw to point out that there are countries in the world that still have a death penalty for homosexuality – most of us in the West see that while those who think of homosexuality as evil feel justified in throwing “offenders” from rooftops, they are very wrong. So, what are we wrong about here? Shaw basically says that there is no behaviour that anyone engages in that we are not all capable of, and it's more useful to talk about ways to improve society than throw around the label “evil”. For example, rapists are a product of rape culture: Are those who sexually assault evil? They are certainly often portrayed as such. Unfortunately from the cases we do know about, sexual assault is so prevalent that if we were to send all the perpetrators to a remote island, we would see our population shrink dramatically. What she recommends is “better sexual socialisation”, and to “treat the women of the world as capable, complex, fully formed human beings, who are not inferior to men.” Shaw has similar thoughts on slavery's relationship to the society it operates within: I think that enslaving someone is one of the worst things we can do to another human being, but calling slavery evil feels like letting slaveholders off the hook. It is greedy. It is selfish. It is harmful. But it's the result of broken systems and an individual's broken values rather than some fundamental and immutable aberration within the slaveholder. And I'm not arguing against that: slavery used to be normalised in the West and is still practised here by the “greedy” and “selfish” in the shadows; but can't "greedy" and "selfish" still be evil? It was more challenging for me (in a very large section on sexuality) to think of pedophilia as a sexual orientation instead of an active choice, and Shaw urges us to see it as natural (and unharmful if not acted on) so that pedophiles can feel safe to open up about their urges and seek help. By trying to understand paedophilia we are not dismissing the realities of child sexual abuse, nor are we condoning or normalising the issue. Instead, we can work towards a world where we are in a better position to deal with the reality of the issue. Paedophilia has always existed, and always will. Flippantly dismissing it as an aberration helps no one. On murder, Shaw sees no evil: a person who has killed once in the heat of the moment doesn't deserve to be labelled a murderer; even Jeffrey Dahmer was apparently just lonely. When we start to scratch below their scary surface, even the worst killers turn out to be human beings. And, looking at the data, it seems that human beings largely kill for the same reasons that they do many other things – to find human connections, to protect their families, to achieve their goals, to acquire things they think they need. They do it to deal with basic human emotions like anger and jealousy, lust and greed, betrayal and pride...If your murder fantasies were deeper, and you had less to lose, you too might act on them. Right up to Hitler, Shaw refuses to use the label “evil” to describe anyone. Beyond the chapters on criminal behaviour, I didn't get anything out of the section on why new technology (and particularly AI) shouldn't be labelled evil, and the section on corporate greed, third world working conditions, and factory farming (Shaw is a vegan) felt more woke than sciencey. And as for the science, most of the research quoted were variations on the Trolley Dilemma, the Milgram (shock button) Experiment and the (generally discredited today) Stanford Prison Experiment that I studied at university a hundred years ago. When we understand what leads to harm, we can begin to fight against it. This involves taking action to stop harm, fighting against our own urges to do harm, and helping people who have done harm to get better. And whatever we stand for, fight for, feel for, we must never dehumanise people.I'm all for stopping harm, and I'm not arguing against the idea that understanding is the first step to fixing anything. But this wasn't really a science book. And it didn't really convince me that some people's actions don't deserve to be called by a name that marks them as outside the range of acceptable human behaviour. Three stars is a rounding up.
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  • Aaron Schmuhl
    January 1, 1970
    So, this is a hard book to review. It's mostly hard because I don't want it to seem like I think it's a bad book, but the alternative is that there really isn't anything to hang your hat on with it. The cover says "The Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side," but that really isn't what the book is about. Yes, there's some science and studies referenced in the book, but a more accurate subtitle is "Why Nothing is Really Evil." So, if you're looking for a deep-dive into the psychology and biochemistr So, this is a hard book to review. It's mostly hard because I don't want it to seem like I think it's a bad book, but the alternative is that there really isn't anything to hang your hat on with it. The cover says "The Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side," but that really isn't what the book is about. Yes, there's some science and studies referenced in the book, but a more accurate subtitle is "Why Nothing is Really Evil." So, if you're looking for a deep-dive into the psychology and biochemistry behind why humans do evil stuff, this book really isn't for you. No matter what "evil" is presented in the book, the overall goal is to explain why this is subjective and not all evil. For example, the last line of the book is "It's time we rethink evil." I get it, and the author isn't wrong, but it's not really why I wanted to read the book. The author writes in a very pop-nonfic kind of way, which is fine and engaging, but also tends to inject a little bit too much of her personal opinion and stories about herself on various topics into a book that's purportedly about the science of evil. While she mostly does a good job of saying "I think that..." before these injections, some of them don't seem to be a good fit. She also tends to equate things that I'm not sure should be equated, (I'm hesitant to mention this, but...) for example at one point she directly compares saying that someone got a computer virus because they didn't patch their computer to victim blaming victims of revenge porn. I mean, I suppose they're fundamentally similar, but I'm not sure that those things are really comparable. Those types of odd comparisons are frequent enough in the book to make you step back and doubt much more of it.Honestly, it's an interesting read at times (specifically when the author focuses on the science), but there's not enough in here to make me willing to recommend it. There are enough good parts where it's not a waste of time, either, which is why I'm leaning towards 2 stars.
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  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    Shaw's main question for her readers is this: should we as a society be using the word evil? Is it okay to label someone evil, in turn forever damning them for their bad decisions? Shaw doesn't think we should - that there are many facets of someone 'turning evil' and that we need to do better to understand these people's behaviors (like pedophilia or psychopathy) instead of deeming them less than. I tend to not agree with Shaw's hypothesis (I do think murderers should be labeled murderers for t Shaw's main question for her readers is this: should we as a society be using the word evil? Is it okay to label someone evil, in turn forever damning them for their bad decisions? Shaw doesn't think we should - that there are many facets of someone 'turning evil' and that we need to do better to understand these people's behaviors (like pedophilia or psychopathy) instead of deeming them less than. I tend to not agree with Shaw's hypothesis (I do think murderers should be labeled murderers for the rest of their lives!), but I was impressed with her wide array of knowledge, as well as her fascinating collection of research studies. Although at times I lost the main thread, Shaw included so much interesting information, that it didn't matter too much in the need. A great psychology read!
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  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    January 1, 1970
    via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/'Without understanding, we risk dehumanizing others, writing off human beings simply because we don’t comprehend them.'That is a loaded sentence and Evil is a strange beast, one we can’t ever contain because it’s slippery. The face of evil changes with time, what is evil today may be the norm tomorrow. One thing this book will do is make you squirm, because when discussing evil we remove ourselves from the equation until someone points out that via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/'Without understanding, we risk dehumanizing others, writing off human beings simply because we don’t comprehend them.'That is a loaded sentence and Evil is a strange beast, one we can’t ever contain because it’s slippery. The face of evil changes with time, what is evil today may be the norm tomorrow. One thing this book will do is make you squirm, because when discussing evil we remove ourselves from the equation until someone points out that ignorance is no excuse either. Oh yes, you and me too. Think about consumerism, all those things we just have to have on the backs of the broken. I have such a disgust for child abusers, but the truth is, Shaw raises solid arguments on why dehumanizing anyone actually hurts us all in the end. How can we learn and create a safe environment if we really don’t understand the why of it all? How can we understand the why of anything if we rush to label a person or thing evil? End of story, you’re nothing like me, you’re evil! Nothing else to see here, we’ve decided it’s just evil. I realize that is a huge mistake.Someone thinks you are evil too, be it for your religious beliefs or lack thereof, maybe even the country you live in, or your sexual preferences. Julia Shaw’s book can start some very interesting conversations and you can bet not everyone is going to agree. This is not for the light reader, the subject is very heavy. You are not meant to feel sorry for people who are attracted to children or animals, to most of us this is beyond vile, repulsive but it doesn’t change that such people exist and struggle with these ‘urges’. Do you see what I mean, this is a tough read! It’s hard to review, because these are subjects we find downright abhorrent and, admittedly, evil. Like a dead rotting thing, we do not want to acknowledge it’s there, bury it, let someone else deal with it. Tell me though, what about people who have evil thoughts but never act on them? Or their forbidden urges? How do we help them, prevent these thoughts from escalating into acts? Can we? What a slippery slope!This book will challenge your notions of bad and good, much in the same way age blurs that line. As children, we are reared on stories teaching us morality, many meant to keep us in line or safe, to make sure we become upstanding citizens. As we age, life kicks us, we struggle, we make mistakes because we are human and flawed. We all want to be understood, forgiven our mistakes, and yet if someone’s darkest deed is out in the open, it’s less easy to move on because it’s all we can see, an ever-present stain. Not everything should be forgiven, we have laws for a reason, but we must understand or we gain nothing. In all fairness though, often some criminals do prove that they shouldn’t be trusted and commit the same crimes over and over. What about that?Regarding our impressions based on looks (someone looks evil, weird, creepy) it is true we are biased. Surely someone who is beautiful, well-kempt, and eloquent gains the trust of many, and often to our detriment. Our visual perception is deeply flawed, just as much as we trust beauty we are put off by those with unusual deformities, unfairly so. I agree with the idea that people often feel someone must deserve their suffering, we see it every day. This made me wonder… if someone looks ‘creepy’ to everyone they meet, they would certainly be treated suspiciously, it wouldn’t be so far-fetched to imagine it affects their interactions and sours them socially. Why not, I would certainly be sick and tired of people myself always having an adverse reaction to me based on looks I had no choice in. On the flip side, I thought the same is true for those with stunning looks who do have depth and maybe have a hard time knowing who genuinely likes them as a person, rather than wanting them based on their beauty alone. Between the two though, people often stumble over themselves to help attrractive people. I refuse to touch on mental illness and the disgusting lack of understanding the whole world over, it’s such a mess even in our ‘modern age’. People are downright terrified of mental illness, it’s no wonder with popular culture and films, the mentally ill, if you believe Hollywood, are all serial killers. People are downright uncomfortable the moment they hear whisper of ‘mental illness’, much of that is due to ignorance, poor education as a whole on the subject. See, this book leads to stray thoughts. Back to evil…Mob mentality is a beast, it certainly seems that cruelty (evil) is easier for human beings if others are chanting alongside you. We also can be downright disgusting if there is anonymity to hide behind. Is that not evil? I have a hard time reading about the differences in cultures. My beloved uncle was an anthropologist and there were many conversations about the places he traveled, the shocking (to my American sensibilities) social norms he witnessed, many I would and do consider evil and I am adamant in my refusal to change my mind even at the risk of hypocrisy. That’s okay, I am human but I will listen at least, to your side.Back to looks again, I agree we are biased in our judgements based on looks but I also believe in gut instincts. Personally, when I’ve ignored mine, it was a mistake. I think we have these gut reactions for a reason more often than not. Then again, I have met just as many ‘beautiful people’ that gave me a bad feeling. So there. The fact is, I would be the first to define someone as evil if they victimized my loved ones. It’s a different conversation when you experience it firsthand, I know this book isn’t about the victims, but it’s my personal feeling. I understand what Shaw is saying, and why it’s important but I don’t have to like it.This is a provocative book. I will say, much as Shaw does, thoughts are one thing acting on them another. I hope we do someday have a way to intervene and help those with ‘unnatural urges’ (please, don’t bombard me with messages about what defines unnatural, we will be here for eternity and I mean murdering people, abuse, molestation, anything that victimizes another). I realize we victimize each other in small ways, but somehow taking someone’s life isn’t as bad as say, snapping at your child. Let’s face it, call it evil or not there are extremes that have to be measured or else society falls apart. We do need to continue studying the nature of evil, because that nature is in us all. Thank God there are others invested in this science, because for me, it would be too hard. I leave it to the experts.An uneasy read, but I think it will give you a lot to talk about. It was hard for me to review!Publication Date: February 27, 2019Abrams Press
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  • Amirography
    January 1, 1970
    To be honest, I'm disappointed. Her book on fake memories was very educational and interesting. And the sentiment and courage behind this book were amazing. But the content in this book was not as detailed and interesting as I hoped. Her citations and arguments did not impress me. I mean relying on Zimbardo's Standford prison experiment was disappointing, as anyone who dug deep into this experiment would know how fraudulent, unreliable, questionable and unreplicated this so-called experiment was To be honest, I'm disappointed. Her book on fake memories was very educational and interesting. And the sentiment and courage behind this book were amazing. But the content in this book was not as detailed and interesting as I hoped. Her citations and arguments did not impress me. I mean relying on Zimbardo's Standford prison experiment was disappointing, as anyone who dug deep into this experiment would know how fraudulent, unreliable, questionable and unreplicated this so-called experiment was. And the chapter on AI? Relying on Hawking and Musks arguments? Are you kidding me? There are good arguments against AI, but the only interesting thing about Hawking and Musks anti-AI arguments is that how can a genius in one field be so stupid in another. Again, the sentiment behind this book was amazing. But the execution was highly disappointing. I would have given her a worse rating if it wasn't for the courage and progressive thinking that this book would have taken.
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  • Cathy
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 starsSome chapters were more interesting than others and this raises some valid questions, but ultimately I didn't get what I wanted out of this book. The author's writing/narration didn't work for me because she often came across as sounding vaguely condescending and there was a preachy quality to it all, which I hate.Also, if I never hear the word 'dehumanise' again, it will be too soon.I do give the author kudos for being so open about her own sexuality in this book and I did like the sho 2.5 starsSome chapters were more interesting than others and this raises some valid questions, but ultimately I didn't get what I wanted out of this book. The author's writing/narration didn't work for me because she often came across as sounding vaguely condescending and there was a preachy quality to it all, which I hate.Also, if I never hear the word 'dehumanise' again, it will be too soon.I do give the author kudos for being so open about her own sexuality in this book and I did like the short section about false memories, which is apparently her field of expertise and I would be interested in reading more about those.
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  • Bob
    January 1, 1970
    As an ethics instructor, I am delighted to have read Julia Shaw's book, Evil: The Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side. Dr. Shaw does an outstanding job of elucidating the nuances of a rich bio-psycho-social perspective of despicable behavior. Now, I have a wealth of great examples, provocative research findings, and thoughtful questions for debate to share and help learners see the science and philosophy behind evil. Plus, reading this book was like a deliberate ride through a freak house wearin As an ethics instructor, I am delighted to have read Julia Shaw's book, Evil: The Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side. Dr. Shaw does an outstanding job of elucidating the nuances of a rich bio-psycho-social perspective of despicable behavior. Now, I have a wealth of great examples, provocative research findings, and thoughtful questions for debate to share and help learners see the science and philosophy behind evil. Plus, reading this book was like a deliberate ride through a freak house wearing a lab coat. Thanks to the publisher for letting me enjoy this ride via Net Galley before it officially debuts with the public this fall.
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  • Lynn Coulter
    January 1, 1970
    I'm not confident at all about sharing my opinions of Julia Shaw's new book, Evil: the Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side. After all, Ms. Shaw is a senior lecturer in psychology and criminology at London South Bank University, and I have expertise in neither field. But I just can't agree with the conclusions she draws from case studies of serial killers and criminals. I agree with her finding that readers fascinated by evil, and I understand what she means when she says different cultures may d I'm not confident at all about sharing my opinions of Julia Shaw's new book, Evil: the Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side. After all, Ms. Shaw is a senior lecturer in psychology and criminology at London South Bank University, and I have expertise in neither field. But I just can't agree with the conclusions she draws from case studies of serial killers and criminals. I agree with her finding that readers fascinated by evil, and I understand what she means when she says different cultures may disagree on what is actually evil behavior. Then she asks, if evil depends on a cultural definition, does evil really exist at all? She loses me entirely when she discusses serial killer/cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer as driven by loneliness. Wait. Most lonely people don't need to freeze other humans' body parts or ingest them to deal with their emotions. Some of her reasoning just doesn't mesh with common sense. I think evil actually does exist in some people, (was Hitler just lonely, too?) and that some people are so disturbed they cross moral/ethical lines. Then again, as I said from the beginning, what do I know? I'm not a trained scientist. But I can't accept all her theories, which seem too simplistic. The book itself is well-written.
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  • Antonio Delgado
    January 1, 1970
    This book is an accessible approach to the problem of evil without the academic jargon but with the proper academic and responsible rigor. Offering more than answers, Julia Shaw takes us to question a priori conception(s) of evil. Simply put it, it is easy to use the later of evil than to deal with reality. Shaw challenges us to think and to have a dialogue with ourselves regarding our own capacity for committing acts that often fall into that category.
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  • Counsel182
    January 1, 1970
    Evil spelled backwards is live.I gave this book one star in an attempt to get in touch with my evil self. It is not because the book necessarily deserves one star. It is finely written. It presents an interesting concept. Parts of the book are rather fascinating. However, the basic premise of the book and certain portions of it are frankly repugnant. Ms. Shaw posits the idea that it is time to re-think 'evil' as a concept. The idea of labeling (something an old professor of mine termed Rumpelsti Evil spelled backwards is live.I gave this book one star in an attempt to get in touch with my evil self. It is not because the book necessarily deserves one star. It is finely written. It presents an interesting concept. Parts of the book are rather fascinating. However, the basic premise of the book and certain portions of it are frankly repugnant. Ms. Shaw posits the idea that it is time to re-think 'evil' as a concept. The idea of labeling (something an old professor of mine termed Rumpelstilkinism) a term gives it a certain connotation. Once we call something evil it is immediately associated with derogatory and demeaning terms which Ms. Shaw seems to think occurs without much objective judgment. Her logic is spurious and circuitous.Ms. Shaw begins with the horrible idea questioning why we readily associate Hitler with evil. She does not stop there as she even goes to the length of attempting to legitimize aberrant sexual practices such as bestiality and pedophilia (I'm not kidding) it is almost as if she is trying to be a 'shock jock' or advant grade painter-- posit something so 'offense' that it will provoke a response--like a Mapplethrope photo showing someone urinating on a crucifix or into someone's mouth--the idea is to provoke a response rather than presenting a well reasoned argument.One real baffling use is that Ms. Shaw at one point talks about pornography and how it is not "right" (she does not seem beneath infecting us with her own judgments) to be critical of individuals obsessed with porn. She even points to a study which suggests that individuals obsessed with pornography are not more prone to commit sexual attacks. However, she then later goes on to combat misogony and how we as a society are embudded with images that serve to demean woman that she fears can only do harm. It seems a bit hypocritical if you agree with her fanciful logic.Her concluding section is a bit apologetic. She concedes that subjectively there really may be such a thing as evil. However, she continues to insist that there is no person, no group, no behaviour, no thing that is objectively evil. Perhaps evil only lives in our fears.What is good and what is evil is not like what is hot and what is cold. You cannot parse out subjective truths from such topics. Doing away with the concept of what is good and what is evil also tears away at the basic social compact. We all are to strive for the greater good but what if what is only good for us gets in the way? Is that evil? It might or it might not be. It remains a subjective assessment. Ms. Shaw invokes Menachim Begin and the idea that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" but rapidly walks away from the basic underpinnings of that concept. She would not allow us to make such an assessment when in pure analytical terms we must or we as a society would fail as the idea of what is "right" and what is "wrong" is at the basic core of our being. Ms. Shaw misses out on all that.
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  • Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)
    January 1, 1970
    A long time ago, I received this book as an ARC. However, it was one of those that would only be sent to my computer. I hate reading on my computer, so I really tried it since this is an interesting topic, but I gave up and just said I wouldn't give feedback.That being said, I finally got the book from the library and read it!Now, I find this topic interesting. There were tons of interesting things in here. Pedophiles, paraphilias, the bystander effect, etc. And Shaw's point for this book was to A long time ago, I received this book as an ARC. However, it was one of those that would only be sent to my computer. I hate reading on my computer, so I really tried it since this is an interesting topic, but I gave up and just said I wouldn't give feedback.That being said, I finally got the book from the library and read it!Now, I find this topic interesting. There were tons of interesting things in here. Pedophiles, paraphilias, the bystander effect, etc. And Shaw's point for this book was to challenge what we think we know about evil and to realize that evilness is just a way for us to dehumanize them. Everyone who we label as evil is just a human being. That's it.However, I think the story really got lost in there. Tons of interesting things, but there was just too much going on that it got lost. I could barely remember her thesis until getting to the conclusion and re-remembering it all over again.It's also very popular. As in, it's not very academic. She talks a lot about academia and she is a researcher, but the book is targeted for everyday people who don't have backgrounds in psychology or academic research. At times, that got on my nerves since I wanted the information presented in a more formal way. And, I didn't get that from this. At times, I thought about how it'd probably be better for me to just go out and find the research she mentions to read it for myself.This book is fine, it just isn't what I wanted in the end.
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  • Valerie
    January 1, 1970
    **I won an uncorrected proof of this book through a Goodreads.com Giveaway**At last! A book addressing that most elusive of topics-- Evil. Dr. Julia Shaw, criminologist & psychologist, is quite an expert on the subject. In this devourable book, she explores evil in all its inhuman guises--sadism, slavery, cybercrime, murder, torture, terrorism, and more-- and reveals it to be infinitely human. I enjoy Dr. Shaw's conversational style as much as I appreciate her extensive research. This book i **I won an uncorrected proof of this book through a Goodreads.com Giveaway**At last! A book addressing that most elusive of topics-- Evil. Dr. Julia Shaw, criminologist & psychologist, is quite an expert on the subject. In this devourable book, she explores evil in all its inhuman guises--sadism, slavery, cybercrime, murder, torture, terrorism, and more-- and reveals it to be infinitely human. I enjoy Dr. Shaw's conversational style as much as I appreciate her extensive research. This book is refreshing to read because it's about more than just sensationalized stories... it's about the social, cultural, evolutionary, psychological factors which influence us all, and the ways that these influences can lead us down dark paths. If you're looking for a torrid academic deconstruction of a pivotal religious concept, this isn't the book for you. This book will show you the flawed human being behind the hideous monster you call Evil. You might even see yourself reflected in its pages.
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  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    **I received this digital ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**This title caught my attention right away, because I, like many other people, am caught up in the true crime zeitgeist. Also, I'm alive and a part of this mucky world right now, so this kind of exploration seems important. I don't disagree with her thesis ultimately: that evil is not a useful construct through which to view human behavior. The book also has a couple of very interesting chapters on human sexuality tha **I received this digital ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**This title caught my attention right away, because I, like many other people, am caught up in the true crime zeitgeist. Also, I'm alive and a part of this mucky world right now, so this kind of exploration seems important. I don't disagree with her thesis ultimately: that evil is not a useful construct through which to view human behavior. The book also has a couple of very interesting chapters on human sexuality that highlighted what the author seemed to be most interested in. Otherwise it was, unfortunately, a disappointment. My first clue that she wasn't trying to be objective or professional in any way was a parenthetical comment she made about Jeffrey Dahmer's sentence of 15 consecutive life sentences, something like "(you know, just in case he survived the first one.)" Though she has an MS in law, she was either accidentally or purposely overlooking the fact that the multiple life sentences were not utilitarian punishments, but rather meant to establish a sense of "justice" for each crime he was convicted of. Throughout the book the author states multiple times that we are conditioned to be biased toward victims and to dehumanize murderers, so I guess that line of reasoning follows.In between neurological studies and statistical data about how humans perceive evil, Shaw goes on several personal screeds on topics like the uselessness of airport security and the injustice of bi-erasure. Again, I didn't disagree with her opinions, but I wasn't really interested in being preached at. That's not how this book was positioned.Though the whole book was bracketed by Nietzche quotes, the only source that she called out as racist was Hannah Arendt of all people (I'm not saying she's incorrect, I'm just saying it was interesting that she was the only one who got this treatment). Shaw dredged up the Milgram experiment a couple of times, first using it to refute the idea that laughing at inappropriate times was inherently evil and then for its usual purpose: to talk about the banality of evil (lol). She also used the Stanford Prison Experiment for its typical purpose of illustrating groupthink gone wild while almost completely glossing over the major flaws that have caused the experiment to be discredited.Anyway this has a couple of interesting chapters in the middle about unsavory topics. If you feel like learning some interesting statistics and attitudes about pedophilia and zoophilia, about a quarter of this book is for you.
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  • Davis Parker
    January 1, 1970
    The book starts off strong with an academic discussion of what makes something "evil" and why humans interpret certain traits or characteristics as good or bad. As someone who believes there is such a thing as objective evil (not just a subjective one), I thought her points were well made and had useful applications in society, for example how we should think about criminals and criminal behavior.About halfway through the book, specifically the chapter on sexuality, the author veers off into wha The book starts off strong with an academic discussion of what makes something "evil" and why humans interpret certain traits or characteristics as good or bad. As someone who believes there is such a thing as objective evil (not just a subjective one), I thought her points were well made and had useful applications in society, for example how we should think about criminals and criminal behavior.About halfway through the book, specifically the chapter on sexuality, the author veers off into what is basically an op-ed and personal narrative. While ostensibly examining sexual kinks that might be considered "evil," the author soapboxes about the LGBTQ+ community and ends with an admittance of her own bisexuality. That is not to say that what she says is inaccurate, but it feels outside of the scope of the book. Moreover, her discussion of pornography lacks any serious analysis. She references numerous studies that suggest pornography has numerous negative consequences and pins the average use of pornography at ~4 hrs/wk (do people even exercise that much?!), but then she summarizes the section by saying that we should use pornography in high school health classes because it can help people understand more about sex. In total, the book has strong moments but ends up feeling more like a political statement from the author.
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  • Catriona
    January 1, 1970
    “When we talk about evil, we tend to turn our attention to Hitler.” This catchy first sentence begins Dr. Julia Shaw’s excellent, up-to-date analysis. She points out that, on the internet, it seems as if “…every comment thread will eventually lead to a Hitler comparison.” But, as ‘Hitler’ has become a synonym for ‘evil,’ the sheer volume of people and actions compared to the WWII dictator results in the weakening of the epithet as a description. Even though there are points on which most would a “When we talk about evil, we tend to turn our attention to Hitler.” This catchy first sentence begins Dr. Julia Shaw’s excellent, up-to-date analysis. She points out that, on the internet, it seems as if “…every comment thread will eventually lead to a Hitler comparison.” But, as ‘Hitler’ has become a synonym for ‘evil,’ the sheer volume of people and actions compared to the WWII dictator results in the weakening of the epithet as a description. Even though there are points on which most would agree, there’s no standard measure of ‘evil.’ The judgment of humans and institutions is filtered through the perspective of what is normal for each particular culture.Can ‘evil’ be measured precisely, scientifically, medically, or legally? Dr. Shaw has endeavored to break down some pivotal events, crimes, and psychological studies in order to examine more closely what ‘evil’ means to us, in all its contexts, past and present. The book discusses this weighty subject in a way that would be useful in an educational or professional setting. However, without dumbing down her language, she’s made the book easily understood and fascinating for ordinary readers.Though it isn’t a religious book, religion is discussed, as well as other controversial but pertinent topics.I thoroughly enjoyed it — as a parent, a concerned citizen, a writer, a crime fiction fan, and an imperfect human being. I still feel guilty, but I’m pretty sure that I’m not evil.https://catsgame.wordpress.com/2018/1...
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  • Shaela
    January 1, 1970
    This book will take your concept of evil and flip it on its head, making gray all the originally black and white things you knew about both evil and yourself.In Evil, author Julia Shaw illustrates the common perceptions of and beliefs around "evil" and then questions them with fresh, compelling, and stimulating arguments, case studies, philosophical questions, and scientific research. Would you kill baby Hitler, even though committing murder is fundamentally "evil"? Why does one single moment or This book will take your concept of evil and flip it on its head, making gray all the originally black and white things you knew about both evil and yourself.In Evil, author Julia Shaw illustrates the common perceptions of and beliefs around "evil" and then questions them with fresh, compelling, and stimulating arguments, case studies, philosophical questions, and scientific research. Would you kill baby Hitler, even though committing murder is fundamentally "evil"? Why does one single moment or decision define an individual as "evil"? Could our everyday thoughts, actions, or norms be categorized as “evil”?This book is an innovative take on the subject of the human psyche. It is interesting and well written, with concepts and explanations that are very relevant and well rounded. Each page presents an uncomfortable but thought-provoking argument wrapped in a unique opportunity for introspection and novel thinking. A truly enjoyable book on quite a prickly subject.
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  • Paul
    January 1, 1970
    This book is completely banal (that's a joke; see Hannah Arendt on Adolph Eichmann). Actually, this book is fascinating and pretty easy to read for having been written by a Ph.D. in psychology. It deals, of course, with the question of whether essential Evil exists, or whether evil just is defined by behavior in certain circumstances, and whether certain people or groups could be called purely evil. The author, who is a delightful writer, concludes that there is no essential evil. Thus no devil, This book is completely banal (that's a joke; see Hannah Arendt on Adolph Eichmann). Actually, this book is fascinating and pretty easy to read for having been written by a Ph.D. in psychology. It deals, of course, with the question of whether essential Evil exists, or whether evil just is defined by behavior in certain circumstances, and whether certain people or groups could be called purely evil. The author, who is a delightful writer, concludes that there is no essential evil. Thus no devil, no inherent evil in groups, philosophies, and so on. She thinks anyone has it in them to perform any evil, including murder, under the right circumstances. I disagree with that. I could never murder anyone. My father was relieved of infantry duty in WWII when he told them it just wasn't in him to kill a man. (And he got an office job, which was still bad enough, he said.) Other than that, the author makes significant points about how people declare something to be evil basically out of prejudice or ignorance.The book includes references to Stanley Milgram's famous experiments about how readily people will follow the orders of people in superior positions to, for example, shock a person in the next room (who is really an actor) by dialing the shock level beyond what the directions said was lethal. (This, I had never known before, was an experiment set up to determine what happened that Adolph Eichmann was able to convince random German soldiers--in fact the entire German population--to gas and ultimately burn up 9 million innocent people. It is a fascinating process of dehumanization (they're not really people), disindividuation (it's not really me who is doing the killing; I'm serving a much larger purpose here) and other factors.She also repeats the old moral dilemma of whether you toss the fat guy over the bridge in front of the oncoming train to save the five people tied to the track farther down. (Of course, she doesn't get into the fine details of whether you can even LIFT the fat guy and why it's your responsibility to do it in the first place.)The book also has some great parts about how, for example, one can measure "creepiness," and shows studies to determine who qualifies as "creepy." It is always a man, and he's usually lanky and has either greasy or disheveled hair and raggedy or odd clothes.She also discusses the prisoner experiment, wherein some college students are arbitrarily chosen to be prison guards and others prison inmates, and how the study had to be stopped because the "guards" were being altogether too nasty to the "inmates."On the whole, it's both a fascinating and absorbing book to read, and you feel much better about yourself after you finish it.
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  • Lynn
    January 1, 1970
    Three observations:1). This is one of the dumbest books by an apparently smart person I have read in a long time.2) I probably shouldn't have expected much from a book on ethics that offers a quote from Nietzsche before every chapter.3) It is amazing how deeply the author is blinded to any other reality by her own social and personal preferences. She knows how the world should be, and we should just shut up and listen.Her basic premise is true but pretty shallow: We gain little by labeling anyon Three observations:1). This is one of the dumbest books by an apparently smart person I have read in a long time.2) I probably shouldn't have expected much from a book on ethics that offers a quote from Nietzsche before every chapter.3) It is amazing how deeply the author is blinded to any other reality by her own social and personal preferences. She knows how the world should be, and we should just shut up and listen.Her basic premise is true but pretty shallow: We gain little by labeling anyone or anything as "evil" and at worst we distance ourselves from facing our own moral issues by thinking that only "evil" people do bad things. No argument there.However, her personal life totally shapes her world view. She is bisexual and has received negative feedback on that, so any sexual act is pretty much OK and simply a sign that you were made that way (up to and including sex with horses.) There is no sense that sex plays any role other than the fulfillment of personal desire. She does have to tiptoe around pedophilia but thinks we should try to keep pedophiles from doing too much harm by not controlling their desires.She is a college professor and so sees secular business as very suspect and money as innately corrupting. Her two examples of business ethics are the Pharma Bro and Ford's decision to sell the Pinto even though they knew it could catch fire.She is female, so any form of sexual inequality is terrible. She actually describes women as a minority group, even though they are 51% of the population. \Suffice it to say I was less than impressed by a book that says screwing horses is OK but interrupting a woman at work is terrible. If the point of ethics is to make her feel good, this was a very successful book. But from my point of view we examine ethical issues to find the places where they make us feel we need to improve (and not just by opposing the things she opposes.)
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  • Latkins
    January 1, 1970
    This is a fascinating book about what we mean when we describe 'evil'. The author, Dr Shaw, argues that people and actions aren't evil in themselves, but only in how we perceive them, and that dismissing terrible acts as 'evil' is dangerous, as it stops us from trying to understand why they happen, and perhaps prevent them from happening. Dealing with issues as diverse as the holocaust, murder, rape, paedophilia, exploitation and modern slavery, at times this is not an easy read but it will make This is a fascinating book about what we mean when we describe 'evil'. The author, Dr Shaw, argues that people and actions aren't evil in themselves, but only in how we perceive them, and that dismissing terrible acts as 'evil' is dangerous, as it stops us from trying to understand why they happen, and perhaps prevent them from happening. Dealing with issues as diverse as the holocaust, murder, rape, paedophilia, exploitation and modern slavery, at times this is not an easy read but it will make you look at the world in a different way. I didn't always agree with the author, but that only made it more compelling.
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  • Kristy
    January 1, 1970
    **Thank you to NetGalley for a free copy of Evil: The Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side in exchange for an honest review.**Dr. Julia Shaw tackles the interesting subject of evil using thorough research and evidence. Does evil truly exist? Shaw delves into topics such as serial killers, pedophiles, zoophiles, terrorists and Nazis. She argues that what most consider evil isn't simply black and white. And boy does she get into that gray area!
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  • Michele
    January 1, 1970
    I wanted to like this book. I really did. But I can't. It is a popular science book but the subtile " The Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side" should really be " Why Nothing is Really Evil." Does it have science? Yes it does have some, but that gets lost in the author either talking about herself or moralizing to the reader. Even the last chapter, "And I Said Nothing," which, I feel, was the best, couldn't get away from the moralizing.
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  • Hannah
    January 1, 1970
    This was pretty interesting, actually made me think a lot about the word “evil”. Can’t say I completely agree with Shaw, but I enjoyed her arguments.
  • Eric Sala
    January 1, 1970
    I came across this book because i am a big fan of psychology and murder. I really enjoyed this book that talked about obsession with serial killers to violence in pop culture. The author, Julia uses case studies from academia, examples from popular culture, and compares to everyday life. Awesome fun and very suspenseful.
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  • Andy
    January 1, 1970
    This book offers some great insights into the psychology of what we as society today often consider "evil". It reflects on many different elements involved, from the factors that can lead to the Stanford-prison experiment and the bystander effect, to the question of what is sexually "deviant" or normal. Throughout all chapters, the language is easy to understand and all psychological terms are very well explained and put into context. Additionally, the author manages to engage the reader by offe This book offers some great insights into the psychology of what we as society today often consider "evil". It reflects on many different elements involved, from the factors that can lead to the Stanford-prison experiment and the bystander effect, to the question of what is sexually "deviant" or normal. Throughout all chapters, the language is easy to understand and all psychological terms are very well explained and put into context. Additionally, the author manages to engage the reader by offering examples of possible behavior or moral dilemmas. Overall, I can really recommend this book to anyone interested in psychology and wanting answers for why we sometimes (or often) do horrible things to one another.
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  • Sumomi (Privater Account)
    January 1, 1970
    if it wasn't for some important messages I would only give it 3 stars. I didn't like the narrator and the whole storytelling style is annoying me. Also there was a lot of stuff I read before. Especially in times where people tend to start de-humanizing people again, it is important to understand mechanisms that allow people to be cruel and toxic, so that's why I gave 4 stars.
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  • Bimal Patel
    January 1, 1970
    Is Evil an absolute entity or does it depend on our perspective i.e is it subjective judgement hat we pass related to an act? How do you define Evil? Are some people evil and others by dichotomy not evil? The book Evil: The Science Behind Humanity's Dark Site by Julia Shaw sheds light on these and many more perceived or factual biases against what our society considers Evil. I think we all have evil tendencies but they are sub-clinical that let's us function and be considered "normal" in the eye Is Evil an absolute entity or does it depend on our perspective i.e is it subjective judgement hat we pass related to an act? How do you define Evil? Are some people evil and others by dichotomy not evil? The book Evil: The Science Behind Humanity's Dark Site by Julia Shaw sheds light on these and many more perceived or factual biases against what our society considers Evil. I think we all have evil tendencies but they are sub-clinical that let's us function and be considered "normal" in the eyes of society we dwell in. Overall, this book is a good read and makes a case against evaluating one's own self before compartmentalizing acts as evil or not-evil.P.S: Thank you ABRAMS book for forwarding me a copy for free in return for my unbiased opinion about this book.
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  • Jill Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    OK, kudos to Julia Shaw for a VERY thought-provoking book - albeit one that I often disagreed with... Shaw has put together an interesting argument and analysis in support of it. I can agree with her basic premise that knee-jerk "that/he/she is EVIL!" pronouncements based on a small number of "facts" and/or singular details is destructive not only to the person/thing being pronounced but also to society as a whole because it oversimplifies and "other-izes" and ignores all of the shades of nuance OK, kudos to Julia Shaw for a VERY thought-provoking book - albeit one that I often disagreed with... Shaw has put together an interesting argument and analysis in support of it. I can agree with her basic premise that knee-jerk "that/he/she is EVIL!" pronouncements based on a small number of "facts" and/or singular details is destructive not only to the person/thing being pronounced but also to society as a whole because it oversimplifies and "other-izes" and ignores all of the shades of nuance and grey that underpin the world. BUT, that said, I cannot agree with her that this basically means everything/everyone is on a spectrum of ok-ness and we just need to understand the point of view of the thing/person and then everything is magically acceptable... (Yes, I know I've over-simplified things a bit there, but bear with me.)This is a great book for discomfort - and discomfort is a great thing when it comes to ideas. I am a lawyer by training and a philosophy student by education. I really enjoy considering where ideas come from and what underpins them, and enjoy having my perspective challenged. It's uncomfortable at times, but it's valuable precisely because of the tendency to oversimplify/other-ize mentioned above. The world is a complex place and the people within it even more so - motivations shift, as do perspectives, and it's important to understand where opinions (and the "facts" we rely on to form them) come from. Shaw draws attention to all of this, and does a masterful job doing so. She has a generally engaging and easy-going writing style, even when addressing dicey topics that make most of us squirm. I like the way she focused on various types of so-called evil - from people with predilections to intangibles, her broad range 0f sub-categories was thorough and thought-provoking particularly in the comparisons/contrasts that it raised in my mind while reading.BUT. (And you knew there'd be a but...) I just can't say that I agree with the concept that there really is no such thing as evil. Her point that human slavery is just a continuum point away from Wal-Mart just doesn't cut it for me. There's a moral relativism here that I am struggling with mightily - while I certainly don't agree that the presence of middlemen make bad acts magically good or less bad, I also can't agree that a person's conscious decision to intentionally do something with complete and utter disregard for the consequences to any-/everyone but themselves, knowing what those consequences will be, is somehow on par with a decision to sell cheaply made products from China. BUT (yes, another one) I DON'T HAVE TO agree or understand to have found the book a fascinating argument about the state of the world, the position of privilege many of us reside in within it, or the difficulty in comprehending the motivations behind actions we cannot imagine committing... That's the beauty of the book - while it infuriated me in many places, it did so because it made me question my own preconceptions and biases, and for that I say kudos to Ms. Shaw. There's a LOT of food for thought here and even if I'm not 100% sure of the nutritional value of all of it, it was still satisfying...
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