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The Truth about Cinderella: A Darwinian View of Parental Love (Darwinism Today) (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – September 1999

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Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Before reading this book, I was already familiar with Daly and Wilson's work from Wright's Moral Animal, Pinker's How the Mind Works, and others, so frankly, this book did not contain a lot of new ideas for me. By no means do I intimate that The Truth About Cinderella is not worth reading. Definitely, definitely, read this carefully, especially if you harbor any doubts about the validity of their findings, as they very neatly refute critics.
The authors provide an ingenious explanation for the prevalence of evil step-mothers in fairy tales: Mama's telling the bedtime stories. Much as I admire this explanation, I wonder if there isn't more to it than that. Let us leave fairy tales aside, and look at history, which abounds with stories such as that of Duke Wen of Chin/Jin (7th c. BC). As a prince, he was forced to flee for his life after his brother, the crown prince, had been coerced into suicide by his father, at his step-mother's connivance. You can probably provide similar stories. Now, please tell me a story about the mother who puts her own child to death at the step-father's insistence.... Does this reflect a sexist bias in historical records? Perhaps Daly and Wilson have tacity answered this question in another context: "the payoff coming in the form of an increased chance to sire the mother's next baby." Kids are easy (and fun) to come by once you've got a woman, so maybe earlier kids can be sacrificed to keep the woman (who may have cost a pretty penny) compliant.
To their discussion of why step-families do generally work out after all (I call attention to the ubiquity of infanticide, as shown by Marvin Harris in Cannibals and Kings), I wish to add my speculation. Due to our big brain, human birth has always been a dangerous event for women.
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Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
This study is a thorough inquiry into the natural biases a step-parent may have towards step-children, as illustrated in the tale of Cinderella (and countless other stories). The authors offer an evolutionary explanation for this (why would we want to invest our parental effort into someone else's progeny) as well as extensive empirical evidence (statistics on child abuse from several agencies around the globe). I'm surprised that I haven't seen this information pitched about by the media (it would make a compelling local news piece, along the same lines as "heat wave 2000", "is your terrier a terror in waiting?" or "How deadly are the bacteria under your fingernails?".) Except that this material is a bit more serious and scholarly. Its a quick read and well worth the effort, especially if you are a step-parent (or have one, or married to one).
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Von Ein Kunde am 20. Februar 2000
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
In this nicely concise book (which can easily be read in one or two nights), the authors discuss the issue of step-parenting. Although we all have an intuitive sense that step parents are not the same as genetic parents, Daly and Wilson present more precise statistics, and provide an evolutionary explanation for why this might be the case. This book will go well with all the other evolutionary psychology books in your collection.
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Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Erstens: was neues wird hier nicht berichtet. Eine these, ein bischen statistische fakten, na ja, wirft einen nicht um... zweitens: soooo was von duenn, der titel und die beschreibung versprechen irgendwelche neuen insights, nix dergleichen. Aber: wissenschaftlich gut, auch ahnung von biologie, logisch schluessig. Fazit: ein toller essay/aufsatz, nur ein buch wuerde ich es nicht nennen
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Amazon.com: HASH(0xa038c908) von 5 Sternen 9 Rezensionen
21 von 25 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9aa51ad4) von 5 Sternen Thought-provoking 12. Juni 2000
Von G. B. Talovich - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Before reading this book, I was already familiar with Daly and Wilson's work from Wright's Moral Animal, Pinker's How the Mind Works, and others, so frankly, this book did not contain a lot of new ideas for me. By no means do I intimate that The Truth About Cinderella is not worth reading. Definitely, definitely, read this carefully, especially if you harbor any doubts about the validity of their findings, as they very neatly refute critics.
The authors provide an ingenious explanation for the prevalence of evil step-mothers in fairy tales: Mama's telling the bedtime stories. Much as I admire this explanation, I wonder if there isn't more to it than that. Let us leave fairy tales aside, and look at history, which abounds with stories such as that of Duke Wen of Chin/Jin (7th c. BC). As a prince, he was forced to flee for his life after his brother, the crown prince, had been coerced into suicide by his father, at his step-mother's connivance. You can probably provide similar stories. Now, please tell me a story about the mother who puts her own child to death at the step-father's insistence.... Does this reflect a sexist bias in historical records? Perhaps Daly and Wilson have tacity answered this question in another context: "the payoff coming in the form of an increased chance to sire the mother's next baby." Kids are easy (and fun) to come by once you've got a woman, so maybe earlier kids can be sacrificed to keep the woman (who may have cost a pretty penny) compliant.
To their discussion of why step-families do generally work out after all (I call attention to the ubiquity of infanticide, as shown by Marvin Harris in Cannibals and Kings), I wish to add my speculation. Due to our big brain, human birth has always been a dangerous event for women. I suspect step-families were far more common in the paleolithic than now. Men outlived women ¡Xprobably outlived several wives. We know from the archaeological record that old people, unable to fend for themselves, were taken care of ¡Xobviously, by the young and healthy. What I suggest, without a shred of hard evidence, is that young men who looked after old men were aware that one day they might find themselves dependent on the younger generation. It made sense for them to tolerate step-children as well as their own gene-bearing children, because some old-age insurance is better than none at all.
Finally, I would like to add that Weidenfeld & Nicolson's Darwinism Today series is thought-provoking, pleasingly designed, and well-printed, just the thing to stuff into your pocket to take somewhere to read and ponder.
Have fun!
9 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9aa50eac) von 5 Sternen solid evidence for an intuitive theory 24. Mai 2000
Von D. Smith - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
This study is a thorough inquiry into the natural biases a step-parent may have towards step-children, as illustrated in the tale of Cinderella (and countless other stories). The authors offer an evolutionary explanation for this (why would we want to invest our parental effort into someone else's progeny) as well as extensive empirical evidence (statistics on child abuse from several agencies around the globe). I'm surprised that I haven't seen this information pitched about by the media (it would make a compelling local news piece, along the same lines as "heat wave 2000", "is your terrier a terror in waiting?" or "How deadly are the bacteria under your fingernails?".) Except that this material is a bit more serious and scholarly. Its a quick read and well worth the effort, especially if you are a step-parent (or have one, or married to one).
26 von 35 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9aa50468) von 5 Sternen Provoking and Informative, but hardly Darwinian 6. Februar 2001
Von EvoSci - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
First, the book is very informative on the subject of step-parenthood as a risk factor for child abuse and neglect, and should be read by anyone interested in the subject. The authors do a respectable, if sometimes overly defensive, job of answering critics of their data. It is clear that anyone disputing this correlation is not only ignorant of the data, but blind to obvious trends in the society around them. It is an excellent introduction to the literature on the subject.

However, most of the conclusions the authors draw from these data and the obvious correlation between reconstituted families and abuse are not supported in any way. The book suffers from the same problem as most (though not all) of the books in this series: namely that the authors are not evolutionary biologists, and do not have a thorough understanding of evolutionary theory.

While they make a very convincing case for using step-parenthood as one of the most important risk factors for abuse, their attempt to explain it is hardly convincing. Despite the citing of numerous animal examples, they show no reason why this behavior would be positively selected in humans. All their examples are of species that share a similar social structure which explains why they practice infanticide. In these species, killing young frees up more females for reproduction within the small window of time males have within a group. So the driving force is mating opportunities, not investment of resources, as the authors claim. But humans do not have a remotely similar social structure, so the examples are irrelevant to the question of why some human step-parents harm their step-children.

To be biologically selected for in a Darwinian sense, this behavior would have to impart a reproductive advantage to the abuser, or a survival or reproductive advantage to the genetic offspring of abusers, over the population at large. There is no evidence of this being the case. On the contrary, given the social stigma against extreme abusers (the level of abuse discussed is life-threatening or lethal), any biological selection acting on this trait would seem to favor non-abusive step-parents. Also, since many reconstituted families never produce genetic children of the step-parent, there is always a reduced selection for any trait they possess.

It surprises me that, as psychologists, the authors ignored much more likely, psychologically and socially based explanations, such as the fact that step-parents are entering a family that, by definition, has suffered extreme emotional upset (divorce or death, etc.), which will put significant strain on what is already an artificial relationship; or that the genetic parent in this case is often likely to choose a new mate based on his or her own emotional or financial needs rather than on the needs of their children. The lower level of parental care is not necessarily a selective trait, it is simply the lack of activation of the positively selected trait of the parental bond, since the step-parent never went through the emotional developmental process of the pregnancy and early bonding to the child.

While I believe that, as products of evolution, we can and must understand ourselves and our societies in the context of Darwinian theory, I strongly feel that anyone seeking to do so must not ignore the fact that evolutionary theory is not simply "survival of the fittest", and is in fact at least as complex as their own chosen field of expertise, often not even understood by biologists outside the sub-field of evolutionary biology. While I believe evolutionary theory will ultimately revolutionize the social sciences, those wishing to apply it should either make themselves expert in it first, or seek the collaboration of those who already are, rather than depend on their own incomplete understanding of it. Unfortunately, like many in the field of Evolutionary Psychology, the authors seem to be trying to force an evolutionary explanation with no real evidence, when better, simpler, non-evolutionary explanations are readily evident.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x99bc7090) von 5 Sternen The worst of our ancestral animal instincts 12. Juli 2007
Von Theodore A. Rushton - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Fascinating, if true. Read it, and you'll never again think of a "children's fable" in the same way.

It is a chilling example of the narrow line between civilization and savagery. In this case, the book asserts there is a "natural" tendency of males to kill the small children of their mate if they were sired by another father. Natural? It's a common occurrence in nature, and a reminder that "civilization" is truly a veneer, not an evolved quality.

In brief, stepchildren don't have it easy. "Civilized" societies share a consensus that all children deserve respect, protection, support and love. This book cites numerous studies to prove the opposite is true when stepchildren are involved; it cites numerous studies of real and sometimes deadly violence against stepchildren. In other words, compared to the fate of real children in real life, Cinderella had an easy life with her cruel stepmother.

The book deals with violence against stepchildren. It's why the Cinderella stories exist, to warn small children that life can be miserable. Unfortunately, there is no way to assess the impact of a quiet bias against stepchildren, the last of support compared to that received by a natural child. This book doesn't speculate on such intangibles. It does something far more valuable; it raises the fundamental question of "Why?" such bias exists, and the natural reasons for it. It offers a "Darwinian" view, even though Darwin may have been too optimistic in his faith in the results of evolution.

It shows "Be yourself" is a formula for disaster. If it's "natural" to kill stepchildren, then civilization requires everyone to be better than their natural selves. John Dryden defined the freedom of Nature as "when wild in the woods the noble savage ran"; such freedom likely included a natural instinct to kill stepchildren. Dryden's "noble savage" was more savage than noble. Darwin said species evolve; this book says our evolution may be relatively minor. Some very primitive instincts remain, and are the opposite of civilized morals.

At heart we may still be close to animal instincts. Killing babies is an example. How many other old habits exist, hidden from polite society except in "children's stories" such as Cinderella? Read it, and you'll wonder how much "savage" lurks in the heart of everyone . . . . . even today.
HASH(0x9aa50c18) von 5 Sternen Thought-provoking 4. Januar 2013
Von Pat Barclay - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Why do we love our children? Why do we love our children more than other people's children? How does this affect parenting and step-parenting relationships... and the occasional deadly outcomes? The authors are two of the founders of evolutionary psychology, and this is a short and sweet summary of some of their research on parental and step-parental homicide. Punch line: it's a good summary of some excellent evolutionary psychological research.

For some reason, this often gets misquoted and misrepresented by fans and critics alike. People seem to think that the authors are saying that killings by human step-parents are adaptive, whereas they explicitly and repeatedly state the opposite (including in this book). Parental love is a powerful emotion that causes parents to tolerate the many burdens that their infants place on them. If that warmth is not triggered to the same extent, for example if the kid is not theirs (e.g. step-parental relationships), then they will simply be less tolerant of the kid. In some cases, that produces deadly results. That's their argument, and this book summarizes some of the evidence. So don't rely on others' presentations of their ideas, whether positive or negative... read it yourself and get it straight from the experts. It's well-written and only takes an hour or so, so it's well worth it.
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