Synopses & Reviews
Why do we want-and do-so many things that are bad for us? In Mean Genes Terry Burnham and Jay Phelan argue that we need to stop looking to Sigmund Freud for answers and start looking to Charles Darwin. Mean Genes reveals that our struggles for self-improvement are, in fact, battles against our own genes-genes that helped our distant ancestors flourish, but are selfish and out of place in the modern world. Using this evolutionary lens, Mean Genes brilliantly examines the issues that most affect our lives-body image, money, addiction, violence, and relationships, friendship, love, and fidelity-and offers steps to help us lead more satisfying lives.
"The Mean Genes
message is optimistic...a self-help book for the merely average human being." The Washington Post Book World
"An unusual cross between a social Darwinist monograph and a self-help manual." The New Yorker
The authors argue that struggles for self-improvement are, in fact, battles against genes--genes that helped human's distant ancestors flourish, but are selfish and out of place in the modern world. Examining issues such as body image, money, addiction, violence, love, and other issues, the authors offer steps to help readers lead more satisfying lives.
About the Author
Terry Burnham, Ph.D., is a visiting scholar at the Harvard Business School. He co-founded Progenics, a publicly traded biotechnology firm with promising treatments for cancer and AIDS.
Jay Phelan, Ph.D., is a biology professor at UCLA. His main area of research is evolutionary genetics and aging.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Our toughest battles are with ourselves
Thin Wallets and Fat Bodies
Debt: Laughing all the way to the Darwinian bank: bankruptcy; savings; big business
Fat: Please don't feed the humans: dieting; laziness; liposuction
Drugs: Hijacking the pleasure pathway: caffeine; alcohol; Prozac; addiction; hope
Risk: Thrill-seeking genes taking us for a ride: casinos; jalapeno peppers; roller-coasters; rewards
Greed: Running fast on the happiness treadmill: money; happiness; materialism; progress; joy
Romance and Reproduction
Gender: Girls against the boys: Mars and Venus; hormones; homosexuality; culture
Beauty: It's more than skin deep: attraction; desire; fads
Infidelity: Our cheating hearts: marriage; cheaters; love; lust; promise
Family, Friends, and Foes
Family: The ties that bind: blood; siblings; conflict; motherhood
Friends and Foes: Keep friends close and enemies closer: warfare; race; gossip; road rage; loyalty
Conclusion: Surviving desire