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Download The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty Audiobook, by Simon Baron-Cohen Click for printable size audiobook cover
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: August 2011 ISBN: 9781452674001
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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. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • 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
  • “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.”

    Guardian

  • “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 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 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 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 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. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nina | 1/22/2014

    " It was really interesting how Baron-Cohen operationalized "evil" in terms of empathy, and discussed empathy as a scale. I could have done with more case studies, but all in all this was a nice read! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jeannette Brown | 1/16/2014

    " I only ready 1/3 of this book before giving up. I wanted to mark it as read in case I thought about reading it again. Don't do it Jeannette! It's not about evil, but about different levels of empathy. It was a dry, super sciencey book that a doctor might enjoy, but not for consumption by the average Joe. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sasha | 1/10/2014

    " Intriguing treatise on the explanation of evil as a lack of empathy and its psychological and neurological roots in the brain. The author explores borderlines, psychopaths, and narcissists and both the biological (genetic) and environmental factors that cause people to develop such disorders. The author also presents into his own research on the subject of empathy, outlining the areas of the brain that have been found to play a significant part in the "empathy circuit" as he calls it. This book is definitely geared toward the scientifically inclined, as the parts on actual brain regions can be a little dry to an average reader, but the questions raised and argued are fascinating. Great read for those interested in psychology, neuroscience, or those curious about why humans are capable of cruelty. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ali Alper | 1/1/2014

    " Loved the way the author attempts to approach the problem of evil objectively. A true eye-opener! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ashley | 1/1/2014

    " read this awhile back, was very interesting :) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shari Schloss | 12/27/2013

    " Great topic, but not nearly enough answers. It left me wanting more information and asking a lot more questions. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 A. J. | 12/20/2013

    " This is a provocative text. If one might step back, it is quite logical to think of empathy coming in gradations, a bell curve. Might we find ways be they learned or genetically to help those with zero or low empathy rather than incarcerating them... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Xarah | 12/17/2013

    " Very thought-provoking and provides another way to understand "evil." "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Stephen Cranney | 12/7/2013

    " It had some interesting facts, but he editorialized a lot and stepped pretty far outside the boundaries of his discipline with some amateurish philosophizing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ioannis Plexidas | 5/24/2013

    " Understanding human cruelty. Great book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kate | 3/25/2013

    " Good distillation of the role empathy plays in mental health and our definitions of insanity and evil. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ellyn | 3/3/2013

    " Nothing earth shattering here. Interesting, but a bit redundant and off topic. Never discussed the origins of cruelty. In fact, this book was all about empathy and what is and isn't. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Briana | 11/17/2012

    " Author makes a solid argument for empathy & is mindful to explain different reasons people may lack empathy. Presents the problem, but doesn't address or give ideas for solutions. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Vladimir | 7/2/2012

    " Baron-Cohen is an important scientist (in the field of autism) but this book is really not good. I found some parts interesting, but overall his approach is reductionist to the point of absurdity. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Saloni | 6/7/2012

    " Was pretty repetitive. But a good read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Steve | 4/9/2012

    " Way too fluffy, way too many vague overgeneralizations. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ali | 10/4/2011

    " Loved the way the author attempts to approach the problem of evil objectively. A true eye-opener! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ellyn | 10/4/2011

    " Nothing earth shattering here. Interesting, but a bit redundant and off topic. Never discussed the origins of cruelty. In fact, this book was all about empathy and what is and isn't. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Eva | 10/3/2011

    " 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 Nikki | 9/22/2011

    " This was a very interesting book. I found the definitions of the personality types very fascinating, I did find the medical definitions of the brain a bit hard to follow.

    If you are interested in the why of cruelty this is a good read even though it doesn't answer the question. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Steve | 8/24/2011

    " Way too fluffy, way too many vague overgeneralizations. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Briana | 8/16/2011

    " Author makes a solid argument for empathy & is mindful to explain different reasons people may lack empathy. Presents the problem, but doesn't address or give ideas for solutions. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Meredith | 8/9/2011

    " Much more technical than I was expecting but an interesting look at the relationship between empathy (or lack thereof) and evil acts. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wendy | 7/19/2011

    " Another of those fascinating books showing how much of how we think, feel, and relate in the world is actually based on our brain chemistry. I love these kinds of books as, I believe, they help us get past blaming and shaming, and on to how we make the most of how we are born. "

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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.

About the Narrator

Jonathan Cowley is a British actor hailing from Eastbourne, East Sussex, but he currently calls Los Angeles home. He received AudioFile Earphones Awards for his narration of The Science of Evil by Simon Baron-Cohen and The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart. He has narrated many audiobooks and can also be heard on both sides of the Atlantic narrating film trailers and documentaries.