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

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4.08  ·  Rating details ·  2,374 ratings  ·  202 reviews
The Lucifer Priciple is a revolutionary work that explores the intricate relationships among 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.
Paperback, 466 pages
Published March 13th 1997 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published January 1995)
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Howard
Aug 30, 2012 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
not fair. i wrote it. but here's one of my favorite reviews from amazon.com:

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...
Jim Grammond
Jan 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Matthew
Aug 20, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical
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
Carlos Coral
Aug 31, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
...more
David Gross
Jun 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Russ
Sep 06, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
...more
Lori
Nov 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sherri
Jul 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 08, 2009 rated it it was ok
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.
Mar 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Nerine Dorman
Nov 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Lage von Dissen
Mar 01, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Brandon St Mark
I originally picked this up because Grant Morrison recommended this to Comicbookgirl19 and it sounded like something that might've be interesting to read. Once I began to actually read this, however, it was super boring because nothing in this was new to me, at least nothing that was really important. Maybe I didn't know all of the ancedotes, but the ultimate points being made were things I already knew of, or already even believed. And the writing style wasn't really for me, it felt like the au ...more
Jay
Jan 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Karson
Feb 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Scott Sweet-Christian
Jan 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
I picked this book up a number of years ago and was fascinated with his ideas. Now that I have I read it, I have to say it was not well put together. I found his thought to be scattered at times and pieced together using fragments of history and psychology that were not thoroughly researched. I do not doubt that he is a highly intelligent individual, however this work did not further my curiosity or knowledge as I had hoped.
Robert
Oct 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Janice Urbsaitis
Mar 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
David
Sep 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Avis Black
Mar 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is not going to be a book to make you comfortable, but it is one of those rare, necessary reads.
Otto Lehto
May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Lucifer Principle weaves a well-written and compelling narrative that is bound to shock the reader out of her ideological stupour. This style provides a healthy immunization against some of the illusions and self-deceptions that we all, by nature and education, live under. Thus broken free from dogmas, Bloom jolts the reader to freely exploring the link between dominance hierarchies, violence, genes, memes, and social groups. Shockingly, he shows how the very same passion that cures cancer a ...more
Rossdavidh
Jul 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: black
Subtitle: A Scientific Expedition into the Forces of History. The most important thing to know about this book is that it was published in 1995, because a lot of its statements and predictions look a lot more impressive than if they had been written in, say, October of 2001.

In the (very short) opening chapter, "Who is Lucifer?", Howard Bloom lets you know what sort of book this is going to be. In short, not a delicate or tactful one. The answer, according to Bloom, is that Lucifer is Mother Natu
...more
Dan Elton
Jul 01, 2018 rated it liked it
This isn't really a full review, but some assorted notes I took.

There are many interesting ideas here, but they all should be taken with a grain of salt. There is a dire lack of rigor throughout this book.

Bloom views human history through the lens of evolutionary biology. He notes that pecking orders are found throughout nature, so why should humans be any different? Provocatively, the work of Robert Sapolsky seems to back this up - showing stress hormones correlate with placement on corporate
...more
Erik
Jul 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jonathan
Jan 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Dennis Littrell
Jul 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Compelling analysis of the human tendency to murder and genocide

Howard Bloom's central thesis here is that nation states, tribes, and other human conglomerates are "superorganisms" held together by memes, that is to say, shared ideas. From this he has it follow that it is the health of the superorganism that counts and not the individual. Individuals are likened to the cells of a larger body. They are expendable, and indeed programed to die in order to serve the collective good. The Lucifer Prin
...more
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.
...more
Ryan Casey
Jul 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Eric
Aug 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Bill
Jan 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
...more
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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"
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