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Introduction: Vampire Wedding ix
Chapter 1 The Trust Game: From Short Cons to the Wealth of Nations 1
Chapter 2 Lobsters in Love: The Evolution of Trust 28
Chapter 3 Feeling Oxytocin: The Circuit That Brings Us HOME 51
Chapter 4 Bad Boys: The Complications of Gender 76
Chapter 5 The Disconnected: Victims of Abuse, Bad Genes, and Bad Ideas 102
Chapter 6 Where Sex Touches Religion: Stepping Outside the Self 130
Chapter 7 Moral Markets: Liquid Trust and Why Greed Isn't Good 158
Chapter 8 A Long and Happy Life: Mimes Creating Bottom-up Democracy 184
Posted June 27, 2013
As a biologist, I was very disappointed in this book. It seems that the author, an economist, feels that he is an expert in multiple fields and therefore can expound on them. One precept he is unaware of is "Correlation does not imply causation". Even if his experiments were set up without confounding variables. his conclusions are meaningless. He is looking to prove his hypothesis. In real science, the hypothesis is what we try to disprove. If it is not disproved, the hypothesis may be true.
My criticisms include poorly set up experiments (all the subjects are in the same room and they discuss their results with each other afterwards? This might not influence their behavior? Zak stated that "no one knew the subjects' identities" on page 13), really basic errors (poor editing or just ignorance?) such as defining "neoteny" incorrectly, listing the wrong temperature of "dry ice" (pg 11), disproved statements about "subliminal messages" (pg 178, see Chabris and Simons), etc.
Zak does not have a good grasp of basic evolutionary theory and makes a common mistake, stating that evolution "selects against", when in reality, evolution can only "select for".
The tone of the book is very conversational, yet he tries to sound like uber-scientist. It feels like he is "talking down" to the reader, yet he fills the pages with mistakes which call the entire premise into question. He does not explain how testing plasma oxytocin relates to CNS oxytocin when the molecule is unable to cross the blood-brain barrier.
The author would do well to stick to his area of expertise and avoid trying to include biological theory.
Posted July 31, 2012
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