The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty

The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty

by Simon Baron-Cohen

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780465023806
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 05/06/2011
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 242,512
File size: 964 KB
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

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.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

1 Explaining "Evil" and Human Cruelty 1

2 The Empathy Mechanism: The Bell Curve 15

3 When Zero Degrees of Empathy Is Negative 43

4 When Zero Degrees of Empathy Is Positive 95

5 The Empathy Gene 125

6 Reflections on Human Cruelty 147

Appendix 1 The Empathy Quotient (EQ) 187

Appendix 2 How to Spot Zero Degrees of Empathy (Negative) 197

Notes 201

References 207

Index 231

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"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

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The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
VICKI Moyer More than 1 year ago
It's about time empathy was examined logically and explained in easy-to-understand terms. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the psychology of those psychopathic, borderline-personities, narcistic, or autistic. Great discussion material. Two thumbs up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very clinical when talking about the science of the brain, but it was interesting to have the spectrum laid out.
eiNch0520_2006 More than 1 year ago
This book does not only explains what is empathy and its importance in the society. The message will really sync into your hearts and minds which will really help you as a person. . .
SwitchKnitter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was pretty disappointed with this book. It purports to be a look at the scientific reasons for lack of empathy, the author's definition of evil. I appreciated his look at possible genetic origins for lack of empathy, and there was some interesting information in the book, but it completely skipped over situational evil. By that I mean evil illustrated by the Stamford prison study -- where perfectly ordinary people can wind up losing their empathy because of the situation and not because of some inherent genetic trait. Baron-Cohen mentions the prison study in passing, but doesn't give it more than a sentence or two. I don't see how you can have a book about psychology and evil without going into situational empathy loss. From what social psychology has shown, a very large percentage of humanity is capable of situational evil, and to skip over that makes the book seem incomplete. Still, Baron-Cohen expressed some interesting theories about genetics and empathy, so I'm glad I read it. I just wish it wasn't so incomplete.
GlennBell on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Highly interesting theory behind why some people perform acts of cruelty. Simon provides a scientific basis for his theories that is backed by his experience and credentials. I believe that he has developed an excellent explanation for cruel behaviors. He covers a variety of behaviors including psychopaths, narcissists, borderlines (unpredictable and impulsive behavior as well as sudden changes or shifts in mood), and those with Asperger's syndrome. I strongly recommend the book.
GFio More than 1 year ago
As a student pursuing a degree in neuroscience, this book was very interesting! Cohen explains from a psychological and physiological perspective why individuals struggle with disorders such as psychopathy, narcissism, borderline-personality disorder, and autism. His research on autism has really been progressive. I also enjoyed his take on what his the scientific findings on empathy should mean for our justice system. He puts popular beliefs to the test, and gives educated arguments. I highly recommend this to anyone interested in behavior, mental illness, and our justice.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting, here and there fascinating, too reductionist for my taste.
Julia King More than 1 year ago
B&N charges $26 for this on the Nook, but you can buy it for $11,50 if you have a Kindle