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

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  2,647 ratings  ·  238 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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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
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
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
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
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
Philip of Macedon
It's been almost 20 years since I read the Lucifer Principle. At the time, it was an eye-opening book that was the most sober and lucid analysis of "evil", and what we call evil, that I had ever read. I still can't recall anything that was quite so effective at dispelling as many societal myths at once, and at bringing together so many seemingly unrelated concepts into a coherent picture. I read this at a turning point in my life, when I was becoming more curious about the world beyond my immedi ...more
James Madsen
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Siona St Mark
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
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
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.
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.
David Sloan Wilson (a prominent advocate for group selection theory now called multi-level selection theory) acknowledges in the introduction that a great deal of this work is rampant speculation. Subsequently, I have done my best to forgive a lot of the now glaring inaccuracies or errant predictions. Moreover, I appreciate that Howard Bloom presented a more clear-eyed perspective on human nature than those popular today among many academics and elites. Namely, that Thomas Hobbes was a lot close ...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
⚧️ Nadienne Greysorrow ⚧️
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
This is truly an excellent read, and compels one to reexamine their thoughts on many a subject. Even if you disagree with his premise and/or his conclusions, it should still cause you to reflect on what you know, or what you think you know, even if its just to simply to reaffirm your own notions.

I think that the primary detractors of this book are simply uncomfortable with the fact that Mr. Bloom here is essentially providing justification for why Humanity has done, and continues to do, some of
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
Apr 20, 2021 rated it did not like it
Racist, sexist, classist, and anti-Muslim. This book starts off without defining its main point: what is the Lucifer principle? I still do not know. Instead this book focuses on positing that human beings are super organisms and this act certain ways that our morality has determined to be “evil” but that are normal parts of animals nature. The last third of the book focuses on why America is better at preventing evil through its child rearing practices and “clear” lack of significant organized i ...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
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.
Oct 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Chris Friend
Mar 09, 2008 rated it did not like it
Written like a sophomoric college student who is simply trying to impress you with what he thinks he knows, this book drones on and on about the forces shaping human behavior without providing much more than anecdote to support it. Pedantic and uninspired.
Feb 01, 2009 rated it it was ok
Although Bloom makes some interesting points, I'm not sure I agree with most of his positions. His politics tend to show through a bit. Read it if you're looking for an interesting historical perspective, but I wouldn't use it as a definitive reference. ...more
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. ...more
Avis Black
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
The Lucifer Principle by Howard Bloom, I'm not sure if I can frame it in a clear short manner but I'll try Societies form into Super Organism based on Meme's (ideals) and pecking orders we are ruled subconsciously by our deepers fears our lizard brains and that is what drives the Super Organism. He gave lots and lots of examples and charted how events throughout history and across the globe were driven by the social physics that relates to these forces. How it works in Primates and how it works ...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
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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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Heads up, history nerds!   Historical fiction remains one of the busiest and most popular genres in the book business. It can be tricky just to...
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“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.” 2 likes
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