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Showing posts from December, 2014

My Review of "Inside the Criminal Mind"

Samenow's Inside the Criminal Mind is an odd book to review.  Samenow, a research psychologist, says criminal behavior is 100% voluntary.  It is a product of disordered thought patterns that are almost entirely congenital.  Poverty doesn't cause crime, Samenow claims.  Nor do bad parenting, peer pressure, drug use, or any of the other "standard excuses".  Some kids are born anti-authoritarian thrill seekers and will remain so pretty much no matter what.  The only hope is to get criminals to intensively examine their thought patterns, and change them through sheer force of will.

Originally written in 1984, I have to wonder:  Is this book merely a product of its time?  That is, does it represent the best of the cultural thinking that went into personal responsibility and individualism that was so rampant in America in the mid-1980s?

Because, let's be honest:  Inside the Criminal Mind has a glaring problem.  To quote another 1980s cultural artifact:  "Wh…

My Review of "Just Babies"

Paul Bloom, professor of psychology at Yale University, puts forward a simple thesis in his new book, Just Babies:  Morality, or its roots, appears to come so evolutionarily hardwired that mere babes can tell good from bad.  According to Bloom, we humans are not born moral blank slates, proposing that "we possess an innate and universal morality".
And Bloom should know.  He has conducted some of the most notable studies in the field.  In a lively, accessible style, Bloom also draws on research into adults from many societies, including the extant hunter-gatherer tribes.  And he tackles the moral claims of philosophy and religion, arguing that we understand how the "amoral force of natural selection" may have instilled the foundations for moral thought and action.
I found Just Babies to be one of the easiest psychology books I've ever read, and he supports his thesis convincingly. 
But there's a glaring oversight:  Where, then, does evil come from?  That is the…