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The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  1,553 ratings  ·  141 reviews
ory, this ambitious and revolutionary book explores the intricate relationships between genetics, human behavior, and culture to put forth the thesis that "evil" is a by-product of nature's strategies for creation and that it is woven into our most basic biological fabric.
Hardcover, 466 pages
Published January 1st 1995 by Atlantic Monthly Press
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Jim Grammond
Bloom has been declared by several people to be one of the great geniuses of the last 50 years. I don't understand that declaration. Sure, he's smarter than me, but I'm also not suffering from insanity like he is.

The Lucifer Principle is basically a study in the genetic roots of good and evil in nature. Of course, nature does not know 'good' and 'evil', and therefore most of this book is useless. Despite his extensive citing of works, Bloom borders on using almost supernatural and ambiguous exp
Carlos Coral
A well reasoned attempt to say everything several social theorists, political scientists, ethnographer, and psychologists suspect but are loathe to admit. Bloom's book offers a look at social theory and the intrinsicly interconnected nature of sentient psychology, behavior, and physical result. Why is depresssion linked to creativity? Why do economies boom in short periods of warfare? Why do trends seem to move and spread in ways that seem utterly fantastic?

The answer -- that we are all particip
I usually do not write reviews of books I read, but I decided to make an exception. If I could rate this less than 1 star, I would, because it might be one of the most poorly written non-fiction books I have ever read in my entire life. One more tweak over the edge and it might be a parody of social and historical inquiry.

The entire book reads like a poorly conceived term paper full of pedantic, meandering discussions, unsupported arguments, and misplaced metaphors. It is no groundbreaking insig
David Gross
A semi-heretical look at our curious species using sociobiology, meme theory, and facts that don’t fit well into consensus reality (did you know that tuberculosis cases declined by 97% between 1800 and 1945 — before antibiotics came into the picture?). Bloom believes that like ants, bees, and slime molds, human beings join as individuals into assemblages of distributed pseudo-tissue in a larger “superorganism” — and that the traits of this superorganism are the understudied key to our history an ...more
I understand more about the forces that drive mankind. Bloom explains his theory of pecking order, memes and superorganisms. He explains why he thinks there are wars and why people want to be on top ( of the pecking order). It is another side of understanding why civilizations are constantly at each others throats.
Nerine Dorman
Every once in a while there’s a book that keeps cropping up in conversations that I have with friends, and The Lucifer Principle by Howard Bloom is one of them. And I’m glad I picked it up. If Lyall Watson’s Supernature made an impact on you, then there’s a good chance you’re going to gobble up Bloom. In essence, the author offers a broad-sweeping yet thought-provoking Theory of Everything, with a vast collection of ideas and factoids that have been doing the rounds for ages.

Except, let’s take n
This book's main premise, the so-called Lucifer Principle, is overwhelmingly persuasive. Its author is widely read, engaging, brutally honest and infuriatingly hard to pigeon-hole. Yet almost because of this, the book falls flat. Because Howard Bloom has a passion for scientific explanation that approaches 'theory of everything' stature; because he's clearly fallen in love with his own ideas, he oversteps the limitations he should have drawn for himself. In many ways his writing falls victim to ...more
Lage von Dissen
Bloom is a proponent of "group selection theory" (as opposed to "individual selection" theorists such as Dawkins et al), and as such, he sees the social group as the main subject concerning the evolution of the human species. He examines the apparent relationships between genes, behavior, and culture, and proposes that what people call "evil" is nothing more than a by-product of nature's strategies for creation. Violent competition (which we may see implemented through natural selection) is a ce ...more
This is really two different books that have been smashed together. The first one proposes a framework for history that views human societies as "superorganisms" subject to the same evolutionary pressures that guide biology. The second one is a long jeremiad about the decline and fall of American civilization. This part is hugely disappointing, and consists largely of a smattering of polemics (against multiculturalism and the Islamic world, as two random examples) buttressed by history that has ...more
It was an excellent read that is definitely not for the sensitive-minded. It did not dive too much into personal feelings of each individual in the world; it focused more on life with humans as a greater being, or as the author put it, super organism. I was delighted to incorporate this new way of thinking about the human species and what it really says about our origins as well as what it will say about our future. I do not believe a single sentence in this book was sugar-coated so make sure th ...more
Can I give a book 4.5 stars? This book was a really neat read, yet I don't QUITE want to give it five. The basis for "The Lucifer Principle" is how violence has played a role in human history and the evolution of culture(s). I don't actually AGREE with all of it, and I actively disagree in several places. Still, it was well written, well argued and generally made me think. So why don't I want to give it five stars? Well, there are the couple of chapters in the middle where the arguments fail and ...more
Dave Watson
I started out very excited by this book. The ideas about humans behaving as superorganisms were quite interesting and seemingly apt. But as I read on I started to realize I didn't fully trust Bloom's research and presentation. He started to come across as a Bill Mahr skeptic, that is, critical of things such as religion, but willing to take things such as alternative medicine on faith. Bloom's insistence that medical doctors are merely dealers in the illusion of control and simply deny that anyt ...more
James M. Madsen, M.D.
This is an excellent example of a book that is worth reading not because it proves an audacious thesis but because it proposes it in the first place. Howard Bloom takes five concepts (1: self-organizing replicators; 2: the superorganism; 3: the meme [a self-replicating cluster of ideas]; 4: the neural net; and 5: the pecking order) and uses them as the basis of a naturalistic, biological theory of evil. Whatever you end up thinking about his theory, it's instructive to *think* about it! A provoc ...more
Aug 30, 2012 Howard added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
not fair. i wrote it. but here's one of my favorite reviews from

Reviewer: Adelia Bernini
What are some of these reviewers going on about? Trying to crush a meme perhaps? This book is truly brilliant. It's the new Bible. In fact I would replace those Gideon Bibles that lurk in bedside draws in hotel rooms with this blinding stonker. 'The Lucifer Principal' is the truth. Go buy...
Oct 12, 2007 Robert rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anybody
This book contains God's Own Truth about memetic evolution and its role in the development of modern society. Religions, governments, social groups as social superorganism. You may or may not end up liking this conclusion. You may even reject it. You'll still be wrong, because Bloom is dead on right.
A comprehensive review of mother nature's amoral stance and how she grants us these evil impulses to drive evolution. A voluminous tome, excellent for beating hobos to death with.
Nour Sharif
It started out great! then it crashed down... I really feel sad because at first I thought "PHEWWWWWWWW! A good philosophy book, the first ever since Camus's La pest, a year and a half ago" But now, I am envelopped with great misery because this book didn't work out for me :(
Some arguments weren't, even if he was right, sufficiently justified.
At other times, he gave sooooo many examples and names of searchers and scientists that his own argument gets lost and absorbed into the so many examples.
I happened to be walking around in Hastings one day, when I came across this random book. I was immediately interested in the title simply because I sort of already knew what it was referring to; the idea that good and evil are inherent traits of human beings and to go even more specific, good and evil are completely relative. The first couple of chapters already had me hooked, the hypothesis brought forth in this book are rather generalized, but the fascinating part was the information Bloom us ...more
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This was one of those books that I spent a good amount of time feeling like I'd read before, as it echos feelings and beliefs that I've developed independently. The first part of the book lays out some interesting theory about memes and the social organism and effectively maps the Darwinian struggle for survival to societies as a whole. The second half read as an impeachment of both Islamic and to a lesser degree American society, and while the events of 9/11/2001 certainly contribute an interes ...more
Ryan Casey
Bloom's decades of experience in the media and music industry, along with a vast reservoir of knowledge, give him a unique insight into human nature that I think will make him this century's Nietzsche. A proponent of group selection over individual selection in evolution, Bloom posits that both the best and worst parts of our nature allow us to compete with others outside our group while cooperating within our group to drive the expansion of Memes, ideas that many scientists say have replaced ge ...more
This one blew my mind at certain points. His sociological insights were the most interesting. Peking order stuff, scapegoating, projecting our unacknowledged faults onto others. I think he is generally on the right track about how reality can seem harsh and unfeeling at times. Animals don't seem to worry too much about how tough it can be to navigate through life sometimes. They have instincts instead. They just trust those or else! We humans have instincts to, but then we have a bunch of shit o ...more
Bloom, educated as a scientist, put his interest to work "at the center of our culture's myth making machinery, playing a key role in the careers of rock stars, including John 'Cougar' Mellencamp and Micheal Jackson.

The book failed to convince me that cultures are super-organisms, evolving and competing for survival of the fittest, with individuals only cells within the super-organism. Although he falls short of scientific proof, I find his premise as a useful analogy to expand my curiosity abou
Jef Choice
I love nonfiction. Danny had me read "Blink" and I think he'd like this one too. Basically, the author presents the idea that societies act like giant organism, that the genetic data of the society is not a gene, but a meme. Meme's have a natural desire to expand, and violently so. Also, the pecking order of the multiple societies in the world are always going to breed competition and resentment. Fascinating stuff. It gets a little bit "I dont like muslims"-ish for my tastes, but I'm guessing th ...more
I would love to read the reviews for this book from Anti-sociobiologists like Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Lewontin, Stephen Rose, and Leon Kamin. A very fascinating book that caused me to question every motive for every action, my own and those around me. I specifically enjoyed the enormous amount of references to other cultures outside of the US and across History. Somewhat depressing the potential devastation that individuals can have on their own society.
This book took much of what I've been feeling, explained it in scientific terms, and backed it up with numerous cultures throughout history. There were only a few points I felt compelled to correct Howard Bloom, which is pretty damn good.

I can't say that I feel a good deal better, but at least I know why everything sucks and it will never get any better. If everyone else read this book, maybe things would get better. Maybe not, with mankind's reputation.
hmmmm. a very interesting book. bloom posits that 'evil' exists in human nature because we are all part of a social network, and within that network we strive and struggle to attain the highest spot on the totem pole.
he argues this theory very well, but too broadly.
it is definitely worth a read, and it willm ake you think, but i would like there to be more rigid research into his ideas.
This book was fascinating. Very broad in its scope - touches on everything from genetics to the history of China. Basic premise is that humans are innately evil. Really messed with my head - gave me a lot of dreams about war. I was disappointed with the ending, seemed a little watery and faux-hopeful in comparison with the rest of the book.
This book is ESSENTIAL to anyone trying to understand human psychology in terms of group dynamics, propogating DNA, and the mainspring of human violence. I read this book after I became an atheist, and it explained perfectly my suspicions regarding the brain's canvas and how social groups take advantage of that psychology.
Janice Urbsaitis
Howard Bloom tells us why there will never be peace on earth, especially in his chapter on bullying in the animal world. Chickens will continually peck the weakest member to death until there are only two chickens left; and then the strongest chicken will still peck the weaker one to death. Sobering and mesmerizing.
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"I know a lot of people. A lot. And I ask a lot of prying questions. But I've never run into a more intriguing biography than Howard Bloom's in all my born days. " Paul Solman, Business and Economics Correspondent, PBS NewsHour

Howard Bloom has been called “next in a lineage of seminal thinkers that includes Newton, Darwin, Einstein,[and] Freud,” by Britain's Channel4 TV, "the next Stephen Hawking"
More about Howard Bloom...
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