The Folly of Fools

The Folly of Fools

The Logic of Deceit and Self-deception in Human Life

eBook - 2011
Average Rating:
Rate this:
A New York Times Notable Book of 2012
Whether it's in a cockpit at takeoff or the planning of an offensive war, a romantic relationship or a dispute at the office, there are many opportunities to lie and self-deceive--but deceit and self-deception carry the costs of being alienated from reality and can lead to disaster. So why does deception play such a prominent role in our everyday lives? In short, why do we deceive?
In his bold new work, prominent biological theorist Robert Trivers unflinchingly argues that self-deception evolved in the service of deceit--the better to fool others. We do it for biological reasons--in order to help us survive and procreate. From viruses mimicking host behavior to humans misremembering (sometimes intentionally) the details of a quarrel, science has proven that the deceptive one can always outwit the masses. But we undertake this deception at our own peril.

Trivers has written an ambitious investigation into the evolutionary logic of lying and the costs of leaving it unchecked.

Publisher: New York, NY : Basic Books, 2011
ISBN: 9780465028054
Characteristics: 1 online resource ; xvi, 397 pages
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Sep 10, 2018

The first half was OK, except for the leftist rantings. See my Amazon review here

Apr 10, 2017

Good first half dealing with possible genetic reasons for over confidence, but I did not bother with the last half whic seemed to lose direction.

Jun 18, 2012

This is entertainingly written, and has some interesting things to say - particularly in the early sections that most closely match the author's area of expertise.

In the latter half or more of the book, the author falls into some of the same traps that he derides others for falling into.

Jan 20, 2012

His main argument is that the information going in through the senses is the same for everyone! and then hits the brain bias factory to change it all up..i.e. our foolishness and folly. A bias factory which of course has evolved from the misty dawn of time. It's the right tree, but he is only barking up one side of it .
But the reverse is also true the information projected by the senses
is different for everyone, bias in an either good or bad way is impressed on the world by the individual. Since a fool is responsible for his or her own folly as a choice it hardly falls as adequately explained by physical materialism alone or leftover evolutionary adaptionism.

fontainebleau Jan 17, 2012

The major problem with reading this book is not so much related to what the author conveys(much of what he says about the self-aggrandizement and
self-deception of American foreign military engagements is not only cogent and revelatory), but rather how he manages to write diffusely and sometimes incoherently. For a Harvard graduate, his command of the English language is appallingly obtuse and
disquieting, especially when he lapses into sociological and biological
jargon and phrasing, as is the case when he chooses to utilise the first person singular to describe his personal forays into past misadventures.
There are some interesting insights about
deceptive practices scattered throughout the book, but, on balance, the most delightful aspect about it is the engaging cover design, rather than the aggregate of the pagination which follows.

Dec 15, 2011

Triver's editors must have been asleep. The first half is a jumbled mess of "throw ideas out and see what sticks."

The second half is putrid anti-U.S. ranting, with the conclusion that anyone who doesn't agree with him is guilt of believing "false historical narratives." Sounds like something out of the Stalin era. Triver's for all his brainpower can distinguish between opinion and self-deception.
He should heed his own advice.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further


Subject Headings


Find it at SCL

To Top