Hello all!! Not to play with the title too much or anything, but I’ve been really bad in the last few days about blogging. So I have a week’s worth of posts around the theme of being bad to make up for it…
Starting with this review of a review of Baumeister’s work. Now I probably have to put in a ton of disclaimers because to be frank I’m not a psychologist or an expert on this subject. Fortunately this book is written in such a clear and logical fashion that even a totally bananas monkey, like me, can get a lot out of it. All the ideas are disseminated in a straight forward manner, without lofty prose to obscure the meaning, and with very solid reasoning behind the arguments put forth. As is probably apparent from the title, this book was heavy going at times- the subject matter is no picnic after all- however I was often grateful for the clinical style which allowed for fair analysis and conclusions to be drawn.
Apart from that, there were plenty of other small things to like about this book. One of the fantastic things about Evil is that in the introduction Baumeister lays out his intention to forgo political correctness, which therefore promises the reader there will be no skirting round the issues. With regard to politics, I did find coincidental signposting (even foreshadowing) of some more current ideologies rather telling (for instance, “countering the hatred of women with the hatred of men is a bad strategy” (82) ).
I did have a fair few niggling issues with the book, which left me not entirely satisfied. There were often moments where I was filling in the gaps of his argument- yet when I looked back overall Baumeister had addressed every one of those points. Perhaps it is just the way my brain works, but I felt like I’d write something in the margins and then see it discussed thirty pages later. I just felt like it could have been a little tighter.
Personally, I also felt like his arguments from a military perspective could also be lacking- for instance there was not one single reason for bombing Dresden, but rather the usual complex multiplicity of motives that arise as war escalates.
My final complaint was that I could not help but think of House, every so often, when he discussed issues from the perspective of the perpetrators…
So while it provided good grounds for further exploration, I was left with many open-ended questions on subjects he touched on. But, considering the fact I was left with a thirst to discover more, I would say that this was in no way a bad thing.
Rating: 4/5 bananas
So are you interested in the psychology of evil? Will you be checking out this book? Let me know in the comments!