The Folly of Fools: The Logic of Deceit and Self-deception in Human Life

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Basic Books, Oct 25, 2011 - Science - 397 pages
A New York Times Notable Book of 2012
Whether it’s in a cockpit at takeoff or the planning of an offensive war, a romantic relationship or a dispute at the office, there are many opportunities to lie and self-deceive—but deceit and self-deception carry the costs of being alienated from reality and can lead to disaster. So why does deception play such a prominent role in our everyday lives? In short, why do we deceive?
In his bold new work, prominent biological theorist Robert Trivers unflinchingly argues that self-deception evolved in the service of deceit—the better to fool others. We do it for biological reasons—in order to help us survive and procreate. From viruses mimicking host behavior to humans misremembering (sometimes intentionally) the details of a quarrel, science has proven that the deceptive one can always outwit the masses. But we undertake this deception at our own peril.

Trivers has written an ambitious investigation into the evolutionary logic of lying and the costs of leaving it unchecked.


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User Review  - waltzmn - LibraryThing

Does it take one to know one? Or does it take a fool to fool one? Deception is, without question, a key feature of evolution. A small mammal fluffs up its fur to look bigger, and so scare off a ... Read full review

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User Review  - ritaer - LibraryThing

Author explores the field of self-deception; does it have any evolutionary advantage to balance the obvious downside? It concludes that for individuals it may, by contributing self confidence, which ... Read full review



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About the author (2011)

Robert L. Trivers is a Professor of Anthropology and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University. He won the Crafoord Prize in Biosciences in 2007 for his fundamental analysis of social evolution, conflict, and cooperation. He lives in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

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