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Summary

Why do we think and do evil? What can science teach us about why humans do bad things? And what do our reactions to deviance teach us about ourselves?

Drawing together science, psychology and philosophy, Julia Shaw unlocks the intricacies of the world of criminal psychology. Grappling with thorny dilemmas from 'would I kill baby Hitler?' to 'why do I want to murder my spouse?', Making Evil will give you a better understanding of the world, yourself and your Google search history.

Original, fresh and rigorous, Making Evil shines a searching light into the darker corners of the human psyche, illuminating a modern science of evil.

©2019 Dr. Juila Shaw (P)2019 Canongate Books Ltd

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Excellent introduction to the psychology of evil

I really enjoyed this book!
Julia Shaw's premise is that evil is essentially a gross oversimplification/ dismissive term and that instead we should 'pick apart' and scrutinise the behaviours and their underlying motives, and she illustrates this across a wide range of topics.
As the author says herself in the introduction - this book is not intended as an exhaustive compendium on the psychology of morality (arguably no such title exists, but more lengthy analyses have been done by psychologists like Steven Pinker [the Better Angels of Our Nature is 37 hours long!]), but this works wonderfully as a shorter text that is enjoyable and can be read in a few days (probably a single day if you had a full day free!). I also like how Julia is not afraid to include her own views and some details from her own life, it adds a great deal of humanity and character to the book.
If you come from a psychology/psychiatry background (I am a psychiatrist myself), you will be familiar with many of the studies (e.g. Stanford prison experiments, Milgram experments etc.) but she offers a fresh take/ modern update on many of the earlier conclusions of such studies, and it never feels boring.
Additionally, I think this book is a perfect example of where it works really well for the author to be narrating her own work. It would be really great if she has opportunity to go back and narrate The Memory Illusion (her previous book) as well.

9 people found this helpful

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Fascinating and thought provoking

A very interesting exploration of human behaviour. Well read by the author. Would recommend to others.

4 people found this helpful

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Insightful, intelligent & extremely well presented

Julia Shaw presents an insightful and intelligent look at the concept of Evil. Thoroughly recommend.

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Incredible!

The narration was completely engaging and Dr Julia Shaw explored controversial and fascinating areas of what makes a person 'evil' in a way that is understandable to anyone with or without experience in psychology.

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Frank discussion of the taboo

Some really great ideas, many of which I have held for some time. I felt like there were some weak arguments in here however, such as calling out a fairly reasonable statement as a 'rape myth' without providing any reason why the author believes it should be considered flawed. There are also a few too many references to studies which are not considered very replicable, such as the Stanford Prison Experiment.

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Wide range of topics, but sometimes desperate

While having many different and nkvel perspectives, sometimes too desperate to try to convince. When bringing some critical points just 1 or 2 statistic based papers are cited. It is necessary to disregard outdated beliefs but its equally important to not accept new theories without clarification. Also a bit ambiguous on some social aspects of how people behave.

The neutrality is lost when discussing about issues with groups the author belongs to.

Great for the first half, decreasing as the topic gets closer to where the author has strong personal opinions.

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This is good!

Great narration and very interesting.
Do I agree with everything Julia Shaw says? I'm not sure I do but that's good too.
Recommended listening.

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just superb

great narration and clear and thought provoking. didn't agree with it all but so refreshing not to get the same old predictable stuff about deviant behaviour.

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  • Simonas
  • 18-11-19

Thesis: Evil is Subjective

You will likely have heard about a few of the experiments or statistics mentioned here, but the author does a good job putting them in context and using them to serve the overall thesis statement.
An interesting read to help you see society (and yourself) in a different light (darkness?).

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 13-06-19

Overall: more than half good

This book hooked me at the beginning. It is a shorter book compared with some of the "scientific" books I read. Most of the time the author is right on point on how to discuss science: properly citing the references and discussing methodology and results. For the most part she only went on 2 larger digressions, but toward the end the things sink. The final chapters are not so big on references, and she switches gears to the self-help side of the things. The only more sterile discussion than the cliche "use this information to be a better person" is her insistence on semantics. This sterile, almost aesthetic, insistence advocating to deprecate the word "evil" is the lowest point.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-05-19

a new perspective

reading this book gives you a different perspective of what people usually define as evil. highly recommended.
Julia Shaw has done an amazing job writing and reading the book for us