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What Juicy Burgers, Ferraris, Pornography, and Gift Giving Reveal about Human Nature

by Gad Saad

Pub Date: June 21st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-61614-429-6
Publisher: Prometheus Books

An evolutionary psychologist goes on a mission to prove that modern-day consumerism is imbedded in our caveman DNA.

Celebrated Psychology Today blogger Saad comes out punching, and the ghost of Charles Darwin just might be in his corner, cheering him on. Accepting that human beings evolved from earlier primates may be hard enough for some, but the author aims for the jugular when he suggests that infidelity might be imbedded in a cheating husband’s genes. Like an oncologist trying to understand a cancerous tumor, Saad insists he’s only trying to get a handle on what makes humans tick. But viewing the human experience solely through the lens of evolutionary psychology will make many uncomfortable. Corporate giants who spend millions of dollars each year in an attempt to mold and manipulate consumers get a pass. But readers not inclined to view fatty cheeseburgers as savvy insurance policies against times of caloric privation or birthday gifts simply as bids at social reciprocity will want to hit back. Saad’s dismissive tone also detracts from the scientific smackdown he delivers; when the author declares that the clinically depressed are the only ones not suffering from the “delusional glow” of self-help books, readers may wonder if Saad isn’t getting a little punchy himself.

The “nature versus nurture” debate might not be laid to rest here, but there is plenty to ponder in this provocative read.