Kair Käsper's Reviews > The Laws of Human Nature

The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene
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did not like it
bookshelves: human-psychology

Welcome to the Dark Side. This book is written by a man who lives in a hostile world where every day is a power struggle with other divisive beings like yourself. If you think manipulating with others to get what you want is morally wrong, you are detached from reality… and lazy (yep, the author actually says this outright).

What you’ll find in this book are Greene’s interpretations of human tendencies uncovered by psychoanalysts 70-100 years ago spiced up with captivating mini-biographies of famous people that serve as proof. Most of all however, this book aims to teach you how to take advantage of these tendencies and use them to influence others to get what you want. Here’s a quote from the author that pretty much sums up the book: “All of this works best if the feelings are not completely faked.”

I genuinely feel bad for the author who has wandered so far into the darkness that it seems that's all there is. "In the end, being good at influence is more socially beneficial than the moral stance. By having this power, we can influence people who have dangerous or anti-social ideas." Think about this paradox for a second - by wavering your moral stance, aren't you the one who has become a danger to the society? Especially if you're in a position of power.

What I despise however is that many of the manipulative techniques he talks about, he also practices in the book. Here are my main problems with it:
- none of this is scientifically backed. I admit that psychoanalysts are definitely on to something and many of the things the author brings out can be observed when looking around, but these are by no means LAWS of human nature. Tendencies, observations, theories… maybe. By calling them laws the author opts to use strong words that distort reality, a theme that's prevalent throughout the book.
- author does mention some psychotherapists, but fails to disclose that the entire book is a blend of their theories. He does that again knowingly, as otherwise the reader would understand that this is only one of the many ways to approach the subject.
- although the mini-biographies are extremely interesting (especially if you haven’t heard of them before), the interpretation part is very, very dubious and in some cases outright wrong (Steve Jobs’ case).
- by presenting the book as Greene is presenting it, he does much more harm than good. Even if many of the tendencies exist, the author makes the reader believe that just by reading this one book they can go off interpreting peoples facial micro-expressions, tone of voice, behaviour etc. This is not only bad advice, but dangerous and can wreak havoc on one's relationships.

Even more disturbing than the book itself is the undeserved 4.4 rating in Goodreads. Ironically, it is human nature that makes Greene’s excellent storytelling and authoritative style so likably persuasive.

Edit: changed 2 stars ("it was ok") to 1 star ("did not like it"), because well... I did not like it.
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Reading Progress

January 5, 2019 – Shelved
January 5, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
January 5, 2019 – Shelved as: human-psychology
Started Reading
April 5, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-1 of 1 (1 new)

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message 1: by Danisadi (new)

Danisadi even before learning the content of the book, i thought the title 'the LAWS of human nature' was a bit ridiculous and over-inflated, and now learning it's not scientific in any way, it's truly outrageous...


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