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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (590 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Simon Baron-Cohen Narrator: Jonathan Cowley Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Borderline personality disorder, autism, narcissism, psychosis, Asperger’s: all of these syndromes have one thing in common—lack of empathy. In some cases, this absence can be dangerous, but in others it can simply mean a different way of seeing the world.

In The Science of Evil Simon Baron-Cohen, an award-winning British researcher who has investigated psychology and autism for decades, develops a new brain-based theory of human cruelty. A true psychologist, however, he examines social and environmental factors that can erode empathy, including neglect and abuse.

Based largely on Baron-Cohen’s own research, The Science of Evil will change the way we understand and treat human cruelty.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Rigorously researched…[Baron-Cohen’s] discussion of how parents can instill lifelong empathy in their children is particularly useful.”

    Psychology Today

  • “Baron-Cohen’s professorial background shines through in the book’s tone and in step-by-step, engaging prose urging both academic and lay reader alike to journey with him in scientific inquiry.”

    Publishers Weekly, starred review

  • The Science of Evil contains a huge amount of useful information for a rather short read…it’s an important early step in building a more robust understanding of our species at its most horrific.”

    Boston Globe

  • “A book that gets to the heart of man’s inhumanity to man… Baron-Cohen has made a major contribution to our understanding of autism.”


  • “Clearly written and succinct, this book will enrich but not overwhelm interested readers…provides a useful perspective for understanding human pathology, including events like Columbine and the Holocaust.”

    Library Journal

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Eva | 2/20/2014

    " Sexy title for scholarly work which says some people have a screw loose. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Kristin | 2/12/2014

    " Simon Baron-Cohen asks the reader to look scientifically at "evil," and to see it as a lack of empathy caused by deficits in the "empathy circuit" of our brains. I found it very interesting to learn about different sections of the brain that work together to create feelings of empathy. Baron-Cohen argues that empathy is humanity's greatest asset, and that more effort needs to be put into cultivating empathy in children. I feel smarter having read this book! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Richard Magahiz | 2/11/2014

    " The only part that is difficult for the layman to grasp is when the author discusses the different parts of the hypothetical empathy circuit. In the end, one comes away with a picture that is only slightly more enlightened on the neuroscience than before. The clinical studies and psychological stuff makes intuitive sense but doesn't seem as substantial as one might like. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Victoria | 2/11/2014

    " It was an interesting, easy-to-read exposition on what scientists think they know about why humans sometimes tend towards cruelty. The prose is extremely repetitive, which in some cases is needed, but in most it's a bit irritating. The book is already short enough, and I feel like there were some questions left unanswered. Basically the underlying message to take home from this book is that "evil" can be equated to a lack of empathy. The most adaptive and practical way to live is to have a moderate level of empathy (everything in moderation); too little empathy (the ability to care for others and put yourselves in their shoes so to speak) allows for guiltless (and sometimes ignorant) cruelty, but too much empathy allows a stressful existence in which the empathizer negates their own needs by caring too much for others. All in all this was an interesting and informative exploration of the darker side of humanity. The extensive reference section will provide anyone with more information, should they wish for it. "

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About the Author
Author Simon Baron-Cohen

Simon Baron-Cohen is a professor of developmental psychopathology in the departments of experimental psychology and psychiatry at the University of Cambridge. He is the director of the University’s autism research center, and a fellow of Trinity College. He has received the Spearman Medal, the May Davison Award for Clinical Psychology, and the Presidents’ Award from the British Psychological Society. He has also won the McAndless Award from the American Psychological Association. His previous books include The Essential Difference and Mindblindness. He lives in Cambridge, England.