Jack Donovan's Reviews > Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence

Demonic Males by Richard W. Wrangham
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's review
Feb 11, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: honor-manhood-masculinity

So many “scientific” books about people written for a general audience turn out to be ideological propaganda with a sprinkle of “science.” This book seems to have written by a vegetarian, feminist and pacifist male who nevertheless manages to fill a good 200 pages with a no-nonsense discussion of the more brutal aspects of human nature and chimpanzee nature. You really get the sense that Richard and/or Dale would rather humans (and chimps) were more naturally peaceful, but were forced by the evidence at hand to admit that humans aren’t noble savages, that they’ve probably always been male-bonded and violent, and that they have more in common with murdering, raiding chimpanzees than is palatable to peace-minded moderns. For anyone interested in men, masculinity, violence or human nature, this is very well written and well-worth the read for the evidence presented. It is, rarely enough, science with a sprinkle of ideology at the end.

The authors put women and bonobos on a pedestal, and wrap up with some grasping at straws (ranging from breeding out violent men – eugenics by another name – and some kind of New World Order one world government) and wishful thinking (albeit pessimistic wishful thinking). Their ideas could be referred to as “The Bonobo Theory” or “The Bonobo Project,” because the theme seems to be that if bonobos could evolve into a more matriarchal, peaceful society – then so could humans. The main problem with this is that for males, being a Bonobo sounds like a pretty crappy hen-pecked lifestyle, and the isolated Bonobos would in all likelihood be picked off easily by a group of raiding chimpanzees. Humans are not isolated. There are almost 7 billion of them. SWPLs are eventually going to figure out that the end result of their moralizing and environmental asceticism is that they will simply be bred out or conquered. The world is still full of people with the will to live who will gladly take the pie from those who are not eating it, and who will see the advantage in NOT becoming bonobos.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
February 11, 2011 – Shelved
February 11, 2011 – Shelved as: honor-manhood-masculinity

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Ian19 A lot of people respond to books about evolutionary psychology by saying something like, "While most books about evolutinoary psychology are just pseudo-scientific B.S. written to trick people into thinking that the American status quo is fair and good, THIS book is actually scientifically sound, deeply insightful, and shows no sign of ideological bias". Is it possible that scientific rigor and honest objective analysis is the norm in evolutionary psychology? I think it is.

Derek Agreed. This was a really good book, strange to meet left wingers who can acknowledge truths about the world they don't like through an impartial analysis of evidence.

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