The Science of Good and Evil: Why People Cheat, Gossip, Care, Share, and Follow the Golden Rule
In his third and final investigation into the science of belief, bestselling author Michael Shermer tackles the evolution of morality and ethics
A century and a half after Darwin first proposed an “evolutionary ethics,” science has begun to tackle the roots of morality. Just as evolutionary biologists study why we are hungry (to motivate us to eat) or why sex is enjoyable (to motivate us to procreate), they are now searching for the roots of human nature.
In The Science of Good and Evil, psychologist and science historian Michael Shermer explores how humans evolved from social primates to moral primates, how and why morality motivates the human animal, and how the foundation of moral principles can be built upon empirical evidence. Along the way he explains the im-plications of statistics for fate and free will; fuzzy logic for the existence of pure good and pure evil; and ecology for the development of early moral sentiments among the first humans. As he closes the divide between science and morality, Shermer draws on stories from the Yanamamö, infamously known as the “fierce people” of the tropical rain forest, to the Aum Shinrikyo cult in Japan, to John Hinckley’s insanity defense. The Science of Good and Evil is ultimately a profound look at the moral animal, belief, and the scientific pursuit of truth.