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

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  2,209 ratings  ·  194 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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4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,209 ratings  ·  194 reviews

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Aug 30, 2012 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
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...
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
Jul 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Nour Sharif
Feb 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014, many-people, english
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.
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
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
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
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
Jef Choice
Mar 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 20, 2016 rated it did not like it
In between ravings about homoeopathy and inaccurate descriptions of what a neural net is and what it can do the book is just a random hotchpotch of musings with no clear aim. Not sure what the message is but the author sure tries to hammer it home by repeating himself ad nauseam. It's like listening in to a pub conversation. You are drunk Mr Bloom, go home.

Lucifer Principle Drinking Game:
Drink every time you read "pecking order" or "superorganism".
If you see "superorganismic pecking order" down
Mar 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
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.
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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"
“The individual is a cell in the social superorganism. When he feels he is no longer necessary to the larger group, he, too, begins to wither away. As” 2 likes
“Of such rejected pieces of ourselves are our devils made.” 1 likes
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