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Us and Them: Understanding Your Tribal Mindby David Berreby
Synopses & Reviews
This groundbreaking and eloquently written book explains how and why people are wedded to the notion that they belong to differing human kindstribe-type categories like races, ethnic groups, nations, religions, castes, street gangs, sports fandom, and high school cliques. Why do we see these divisions? Why do we care about them so much? Why do we kill and die for them? This is the stuff of news headlines. How has a nation gone from peaceful coexistence to genocide? How does social status affect your health? Why are teenagers willing to kill themselves in hazing rituals in order to belong to a fraternity or social group? How do terrorists learn not to care about the lives of those they attack? US AND THEM gets at the heart of these profound questions by looking at their common root in human nature. Politics, culture, and economics play their parts, but its the human mind that makes them possible, and thats the focus of US AND THEM. Were not born with a map of human kinds; each person makes his own and learns to fight for it. This is a crucial subject that touches all of our lives in ways both large and small, obvious and subtle. Human-kind thinkingwhether beneficial or destructiveis part of human nature, as David Berrebys brilliant book reveals.
"With this impressively well-researched work, Berreby attempts to apply the tools of science to an impossibly large question: what is it about the human mind that makes us believe in categories like race, gender and ethnicity? Spanning countless disciplines, Berreby draws on a staggering variety of sources, from St. Paul's epistles and the philosophical essays of David Hume to the evolutionary theory of Stephen Jay Gould and the evolutionary psychology of Cosmides and Tooby. Yet, structurally, the text feels rather scattered. It moves breathlessly from one citation or example to another without any clear indication of where it's headed or what the overall point is; often, it reads less like a deliberately argued work than a collection of anecdotes, musings and insights. Fortunately, Berreby, who has written for various publications including the New York Times and the New Republic, has a casual and conversational style that makes even his most complicated points straightforward and commonsensical: at the most scientific moments, such as his thoughtful explanation of the physical effects of stress and stigma on the brain, Berreby still requires no specialized knowledge from the reader. And he illustrates other points, like the role food plays in the perception of difference, with revealing and amusing examples. The book may not break any new intellectual ground, but it does offer an entertaining survey of a vast, and vastly important, topic of study." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
This groundbreaking and eloquently written book explains how and why people are wedded to the notion that they belong to differing human kinds--tribe-type categories like races, ethnic groups, nations, religions, casts, street gangs, sports fandom, and high school cliques.
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