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The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society

A cutting-edge exploration of the ancient roots of goodness in civilization, arguing that our genes have shaped societies for our welfare and that, in a feedback loop stretching back many thousands of years, societies have shaped, and are still shaping, our genes today.

For too long, the scientific community has been overly focused on the dark side of our biological heritage: our capacity for violence, cruelty, prejudice, and self-interest. And in a world of increasing political and economic polarization, it’s tempting to ignore the positive role of our evolutionary past. But natural selection has given us a suite of beneficial social features, including our capacity for love, friendship, cooperation, and learning. Beneath all our inventions — our tools, agriculture, cities, nations — we carry with us innate proclivities to make good societies.

In Blueprint, Nicholas A. Christakis introduces the compelling and controversial idea that our genes affect not only our bodies and behaviors, but also the ways in which people everywhere make similar societies. With many vivid examples ranging from diverse historical and contemporary cultures, to societies formed in the wake of shipwrecks, online gaming communities thrown together by design, commune dwellers seeking utopia, and groups of people interacting with artificially intelligent bots, Christakis shows how we can never fully escape our social blueprint.

Drawing on recent advances in social science, evolutionary biology, genetics, neuroscience, and network science, Blueprint shows how and why evolution has placed us on a humane path — and why we are united by our common humanity far more than we are divided.

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Genre: Nonfiction / Science / Life Sciences / Evolution

On Sale: March 26th 2019

Price: $30 / $39 (CAD)

Page Count: 496

ISBN-13: 9780316230032

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Reader Reviews


"A magnificent achievement. If you think you understand human nature, think again; Christakis will open your eyes and make you gasp. A special bonus: His book is inspiring and deeply optimistic. The perfect book for our time."—Cass R. Sunstein, Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard University, author of The Cost-Benefit Revolution, and coauthor of Nudge
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"Tribalism is all around us, but it does not have to be. After all, we are all human. Christakis shows what is possible, and what we must do."—Eric Schmidt, former chairman of Google

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"In this wisely optimistic book, Nicholas Christakis explores the evolutionary imperative of forming bonds that are both cultural and genetic. His writing is colorful, personal, and often exuberant."—Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree
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Reader Reviews