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20190825 The Global Age 1950-2017

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This is a history book, so the main idea is to narrate events in Europe from the end of WWII until 2017 and do it with reasonably factual approach.


  1. The Tense Divide

This chapter is mainly about events of the Cold War, especially when it was getting close to the Hot War. Author describes origins and conduct of Korean War and how it happened that it was UN, mainly USA, against North Korea and China. It also describes creation of NATO, with complex interplay around West Germany and its sovereignty. It followed by creation of Warsaw Pact combining militaries of Soviet Block countries. Finally author describes creation of neutrals like Yugoslavia, Austria, and a few more countries. The narrative then goes through nuclear competition, and process of settling of blocks’ areas of influence, including struggle over West Berlin that was completed with building of the Wall.

The second part of the chapter describes population attitudes to the nuclear weapons, including anti-nuclear movements and Anti-Americanism – both actively supported by Soviets. Author also describes anti-nuclear campaigns in the Soviet block. It is funny how both Western and Eastern Campaigns were directed against American nuclear weapons and neither one against Soviet nuclear weapons.

  1. The Making of Western Europe

This is about growing cooperation between countries of Western block and European Neutrals. It describes creation of European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957, decolonization, driven partially by liberation movement, partially by democratization of colonial powers, their military / economic weakness, and post-war change in population attitudes to colonialism.  Author also describes various ways of accommodation between popular socialist ideology, capitalist economy, and democratic policies in Western countries. Author goes through details of this by regions and some big countries: Southern Europe, Scandinavia, Italy, Britain, West Germany, and France.

The second part of the chapter provides more details on “Imperial retreat” of UK during Egypt crisis and Suez mini-invasion. Similarly French fight in Alger and Vietnam also discussed. The chapter ends with funeral of Churchill in 1965, which could be considered the end of colonial era and after the war consolidation of western democracies.

  1. The Clamp

This chapter is about another consolidation – consolidation of Soviet Empire and non-democracies in Eastern Europe. Author starts with rejection of usual characterization of events after death of Stalin in 1953 as “thaw”. He provides different analogy – the Clamp. This clamp was somewhat loosened in late 1950s leading to emergence of some non-compliance with soviet ideology ranging from unionist movement in Poland to revolution in Hungary, all of which were suppressed.

Loosening the Clamp: The Soviet Union

This part is about internal Soviet loosening under Khrushchev when Stalin was denigrated, his terror methods and Cult were condemned as anti-party activities, and some very limited freedoms were allowed. Contrary to Khrushchev’s and his mainly young supporters believes the loosening of the clamp did not lead to increase of popular support and prosperity, but rather led to the situation when demand for improvement by far outstrip actual improvement in quality of live. Under Khrushchev soviet people leaved better than at any time since 1917 when communists took power, but they used newly acquired relative freedom of speech to express unhappiness as never before. Eventually this led to removal of Khrushchev from power and reestablishment of dictatorship, albeit in much less murderous form.

Yugoslavia’s ‘Heresy

Here author describes clash between Yugoslavia dictator Tito and Stalin, which caused this country to move out of the Soviet Block and find some place between blocks, accommodating communist dictatorship internally with semi-market economy and economic and political interaction with the west. Probably most interesting here was ability of Tito to suppress ethnic enmity between different groups of population and non-conformist movements, providing for relatively prosperous society, at least during Tito’s lifetime.

Tightening the Clamp: The Soviet Bloc

This part describes how Khrushchev’s “loosening of clamp” was perceived in different countries of the Soviet block and how it was eventually tightened up, in some cases by using military power.

  1. Good Times

This is about prosperity of Western Europe in 1960s. One of the signs was that by 1963 West Europe exported twice USA share of the world manufacturing exports. Author describes how it happened, emergence of consumer society in the West Europe and massive move of integrating economies into one European market.  This move included Marshal Plan under European Recovery Plan of 1947, creation of Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC) by sixteen European countries, establishment of the Council of Europe in 1948, creation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC),
and many other steps. The relations not always were smooth, and author discusses multiple problems and their resolution.

  1. Culture after the Catastrophe

This is about cultural development in Western Europe after the war. Author discusses pop music, rock n roll, and other art forms. The common feature for all was the breaking with the past and movement not only to the new form, but also to the new values. Instead of prevailing before the war nationalism new antimilitarism become the trend. There was also massive movement away from organized religion in the West. Overall the society had become more tolerant and liberal, but far less cohesive.

  1. Challenges

This chapter is about youth revolt against capitalism and traditional society in 1960s. Author discusses in details protest movements that got to the point of quasi-revolution, with some elements of society resorting to terrorism. Mostly it is about protests in Germany and France conducted by students with little support outside universities, which did not create real existential threat to Western society. It was different in the East were every easement of repression caused generation of movement to democracy, which had to be suppressed with open use of violence, as in was with Prague Spring in 1968.

  1. The Turn

This chapter is about the end of prosperity of 1950-60s that started with Arab embargo and oil crisis of 1973. It caused breakdown of economy in practically all-Western countries including USA. It went through monetary crisis, which removed gold standard then moved to deep recession caused by labor and other economic relationships build in the years of after was prosperity driven by cheap resources and need to rebuild after destruction of WWII. It was also very much undermined by generally accepted ideas of socialism or at least social democracy with its welfare state and multitude of benefits for not working. Eventually democracy triumphed in the West, causing communist powers to lose hope for the world revolution and recognize that their own economies can barely survive on their own. It was also political recovery of the West with Reagan and Thatcher turning decline around and making their respective countries more powerful than ever.

  1. Easterly Wind of Change

This chapter describes the beginning of end of Soviet empire. Prompted by new assertiveness of the West, natural process of old soviet leaders dying out, and general stagnation of economy, soviet elite decided to promote new leader – Gorbachev whose career raised mainly after Stalin’s death and by all accounts was true believer in socialism. The problem was that this true believe was so far from reality that each and every effort of Gorbachev to revive economy and political live of Soviet Union ended in disaster. Author nicely demonstrates that West went out of its way to help, rather than to use situation to win. They provided loans, political support, and very positive media coverage, but to no avail. The corrupt socialist system underwent improvement attempt by a bunch of true believers was doomed and consequently fallen apart. Author also discusses political and cultural developments of this period in western countries noting that new trend brought in by computerization started to have impact on everyday lives of people.

  1. Power of the People

This chapter is retelling the story of soviet satellite states crumbling without support of soviet military, because they had no support from their own population, which considered themselves under soviet occupation. Among this suddenly found freedom the great reshuffling of Europe occurred: Germany was reunited, while Czechoslovakia split into two. Soviet union itself was split into 15 countries, some of which like Ukraine came to existence first time in history, while others like Baltic States just restored independence they had before WWII. Author also describes reaction of western intelligentsia, not a few of which members mourning Soviet demise.

  1. New Beginnings

This chapter is about early consequences of Soviet empire demise and it starts with discussion of Balkan’s bloody civil war between parts of Yugoslavia.  The second part of chapter is mainly description of process of coping with the ideological blow that western social democrats went through. For some countries like Germany it was difficulties of assimilating former socialist population of East Germany into contemporary world. This period ended on September 11 2001 with massive terrorist attack against USA.

  1. Global Exposure

This chapter describes events of the first part of XXI century that included global war against Islamic terrorist movements, globalization problems when opening of Western for Chinese products produced with Western capital and technology very cheaply due to cheap labor and absolute neglect of all and any environmental and legal restrictions imposed on western businesses by politicians. The obvious result was huge deprivation of working and middle classes in the West that by the second decade of XXI century started creating populist movements against globalization. Other issues author discusses a lot are EU problems. These were caused by typical for all socialists drive to move all decisions up, in this case to the EU leadership at the expense of localities. Finally author brings in “Putin factor” discussing partial economic and military revival of Russia with some aggressive actions against neighboring countries.

  1. Crisis Years

The final chapter describes financial crisis of 2008 and its consequences: massive bailout of bank, deep economic recession, austerity politics of debt overloaded countries, and such. The final point is about even more profound consequences of globalization including migrant issue, terrorism continuity, and finally political change in form of Brexit.


It is an interesting narrative of events that I lived through, so it all is very much familiar staff for me, especially starting in 1960 when, as any other 7 years old in Soviet Union, I solemnly promised to Soviet people and personally to Nikita Sergeievich Khrushchev to work and fight for the cause of Communist Party. This book looks at events mainly from social democratic point of view, but generally it is even handed, so this book is not screwed too much in any direction. It provides lots of information that would be very surprising for this 7 years old and I am sure that if he knew even a small part of the evil that was Communism, he would never promised to support it. As to the Western democracy, if looked at it as a stand alone system, it is far from perfect and even slightly below decent, but in comparison to the Evil of Communism / Socialism it looks like shining summer day vs. dark and cold winter night.



20190818 – The Human Network

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The main idea of this book is to present contemporary understanding of human networks, how they are formed, behave, and facilitate relationships between people, including information dissipation, contagion, and power distribution between nodes. Lots of attention assigned to homophily – human tendency to attract to similar people as self and repulse dissimilar, and how it lead to polarization between groups of people. There is also discussion of “wisdom of crowds”, which depends on quality and diversity of the crowd as network, and intergenerational income mobility as result of maintenance of family networks across generations. Finally author presents his attitude to globalization as dramatic change in networks with some very significant consequences that may or may not be beneficial or dangerous.


  1. Introduction: Networks and Human Behavior

It starts with reference to the beginning of Arab Spring and the role of human networks in it. Author aims to discuss: “two different perspectives: one is how networks form and why they exhibit certain key patterns, and the other is how those patterns determine our power, opinions, opportunities, behaviors, and accomplishments.”

After that author provides examples of human networks in school, graphically demonstrating how networks split:

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2. Power and Influence: Central Positions in Networks

In this chapter author discusses various position in networks, stressing importance of central position. Here is another graph demonstrating this point:

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Author then discusses issue of centrality of individual in network and how it creates or undermines power. He provides a nice historical example when superior network led to the victory in power struggle:

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3. Diffusion and Contagion

This chapter is about diffusion and contagion between different nodes in network. It starts with discussion of diffusion of plague and sexual diseases in networks of medieval Europe and contemporary school. Then author moves to vaccination and similar externalities that could impact the contagion process. He also discusses such measures as quarantine and their deficiencies.

4. Too Connected to Fail: Financial Networks

Here author expands these ideas to financial network discussing how failure of some financial institutions prompted failure of others during financial crisis of 2008. Here is graphic representation of the idea that distributed network is more stable than one that relies on a few core institutions:

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Author then discusses regulation and externalities and poses the question whether crisis was like domino with pieces causing the fall of each other or like popcorn when conditions of market caused the individual pieces to pop up at approximately the same time, even if they were independent from each other.

5.Homophily: Houses Divided

Homophily here means love for people like self with rejection of people unlike self. Author uses Indian caste system to discuss separation of one village network sub-networks by caste. After that he discusses process of self-segregation and Shelling’s model of this process. At the end of chapter author discusses negative impact of segregation levels on overall productivity of society as expressed by GDP per capita,

6. Immobility and Inequality: Network Feedback and Poverty Traps

Here author discusses intergenerational income mobility in inequality using Gini and demonstrating how it changed over time:

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He also looks at reasons for these changes that he finds in educational levels, changes in structure of economics when old manufacturing jobs disappeared, and role of job networks, which facilitate acquisition of a preferable place in network for next generation of its members. The chapter ends with call to fight homophily and inequality by increasing transparency of opportunities, providing education so people were qualified to move up and by removing barriers to such mobility.

7. The Wisdom and Folly of the Crowd

This is usual discussion of the wisdom of the crowd and need for diversity that is necessary for such wisdom to occur. Then author discusses polarization of news and political discourse in America, nicely supporting it by comparative diagram of voting patterns in US Senate in 1990 and 2015. The former shows relatively high number of votes cross party line, while the latter much lower number, making contrast very vivid:

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8. The Influence of Our Friends and Our Local Network Structures

This chapter is about human behavior in crowds and the tendency of people to conform to majority. Author discusses different behavior of ants and lemmings, then providing examples of human behavior under carefully designed nudging, and that quite often achieves significant results comparatively with control groups.  Author also discusses here clustering when connected nodes of network are linked to each other via multiple connection such as friends of a person are also friends between themselves. Here is a nice graphic presentation of this with and without clustering:Screen Shot 2019-08-18 at 10.08.06 AM

9. Globalization: Our Changing Networks

The final chapter is a look at contemporary world with extensive globalization when massive trade networks growth coincided with decreases in wars and increases in global GDP. To demonstrate increase of networking between countries author provides graph of military alliances from 1875 till now:

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However the final thoughts are about disruptions, especially massive urbanization that dramatically increased density of networks, but also created conditions for growing impact of homophily and resulting polarization, which potentially could lead to explosion. Author ends by calling to develop better understanding of human networks and externalities so humanity could avoid such explosion and continue increase in productivity that linked to increase in networking.


It’s a nice book with decent set of facts and experiments description that provides more or less good picture of current understanding of human networks, their functionality, and impact on human relations and power distribution. Generally I think that presentation is correct, but it is somewhat minimalistic on the role of human individuals and their self-understanding and formation that has huge impact on functioning of networks. This leads to overuse of homophily as explanatory method for behavior of both networks overall and their human nodes. I believe that this is not exactly correct, and such thing as political polarization comes not from individual attraction / repulsion, but more for commonality of interest as they are perceived by individuals.

20190811 – Invisible Influence

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The main idea of this book is to present multiple experiments demonstrating how human decisions are influenced by society surrounding individuals and how these individuals often do not understand or recognize this influence. It is also reviews human strive to differentiate self from others, but not too much, so one would find goldilocks’ place in live. Finally it is also to demonstrate how understanding of social influence could improve attempt to change behavior of some individuals, specifically poor so they would become more productive and successful in handling life’s challenges.



It starts with discussion about choices and huge influence of other people on one’s choices. As example author refer to lawyers buying BMW to show off that they belong to the group of people that buy these cars. Author did research and found that people believe that others buy BMW under influence, but not themselves. Another case author discusses is mating, which often occur with somebody close by – coworker high school mate, and so on. Author describes a few experiments that support that: “The idea that mere exposure increases liking may seem strange at first, but it has actually been shown in hundreds of experiments. Whether considering faces in a college yearbook, advertising messages, made-up words, fruit juices, and even buildings, the more people see something, the more they like it. Familiarity leads to liking.”  Moreover he demonstrates that people could be reliably influenced without recognizing so. For example a set of words presented before reading personal description could define whether described person perceived positively or negatively, even if the description remains the same.  After that author provides a brief description of each chapter.

  1. Monkey See, Monkey Do

Chapter 1 explores our human tendency to imitate. Why people follow others, even when they know the answer is wrong. Why one man’s soda is another man’s pop. How mimicking others can make us better negotiators. And why social influence makes Harry Potter and other blockbusters hard to predict, even for industry experts.

Author discusses here Ash’s experiments and similar experiments by Sharif demonstrating power of conformity. After that he digs into reasons for conformity, which he defines as need for information from others, need for social cohesiveness, and need to synchronize emotions to increase effectiveness of collective action. From here the discussion moves to negotiations when mimicry improves chances of success. At the end of chapter author makes a very interesting take on popularity noting that it is actually random event when some initial variance makes an item a bit more popular than other similar items, resulting and higher chances of additional attention, which increase popularity, turning it into snowball. He provides an interesting example with cars on empty parking lot. Whatever side of lot the first car use becomes more attractive to the next driver, so cars tend to concentrate around the first one parked. The final important point is that even the lonely dissident could free people from internal need for compliance, which is very well demonstrated in the same Ash experiments.

2 A Horse of a Different Color

Chapter 2 examines the drive for differentiation. Sometimes people jump on the bandwagon and follow others, but just as frequently they jump off once it gets too crowded. We’ll discuss why most sports stars have older siblings, why babies all look the same (unless they’re ours), and why some people want to stand out, while others are happier blending in.

So per author first born get more parents attention so they do better academically, but younger children are better in athletics because they are looking up to older siblings. Author describes a number experiments demonstrating that decision making highly dependent on what other people do. However he also points out to nonconformist behavior and individualism specific to American culture. Finally he discusses how all this used in sales providing people with goods that are unique and similar to everybody’s goods at the same time.

  1. Not If They’re Doing It

Chapter 3 starts to explain how these competing tendencies combine. Whether we imitate others or do something different depends in part on who those others are. We’ll discuss why expensive products have fewer logos, why companies pay celebrities not to wear their clothes, and why people pay $300,000 for a watch that doesn’t tell time. Why skin tone affects school performance and why small green frogs are the counterfeiters of the animal kingdom.

Here author discusses dog that was not barking, signaling with example of changing business use and people signaling belonging to something like ideology. As example of pure signaling he discusses extremely expensive watch that does not show time.

  1. Similar but Different

Chapter 4 examines the tension between familiarity and novelty, and the value of being optimally distinct. We’ll learn why prototypical-looking cars sell better, what chickens have in common with the thirtieth president of the United States, and why hurricanes influence the popularity of baby names. Why modern art might seem grating the first time we see it, but why, after looking at a couple Picassos, Kandinsky are more pleasing on the eye.

Here author also discusses goldilocks effect and how to get it exactly right for promoting something new – hide nature of radically new under disguise of something old and familiar so people would feel comfortably to try. If trial is successful, the advantages of the new could attract people to implement this new in their lives.

  1. Come On Baby, Light My Fire

Chapter 5 illuminates how social influence shapes motivation. Why having other people around makes us faster runners but worse parallel parkers. How our best chance at saving the environment may come from watching our neighbors. What cockroaches can teach us about competition and why losing at halftime makes professional basketball teams more likely to win

It starts with experiment on cockroaches demonstrating that even for them social influence has impact: on simple task performance improves, on complex task performance deteriorates. People are the same. So author describes how he and his team apply it to nudge people to decrease electricity use. After that there is interesting discussion of specificity situation when loosing in the middle of game sometimes increases chances to win the game overall, but in some other cases makes people to give up and then loose catastrophically.  Author also discusses a bit visual versus audio perception and how to use this and other discoveries to control people and prompt them to act enthusiastically to achieve objectives of controller.

Conclusion: Putting Social Influence to Work

In conclusion author retells sad story of public housing in USA, which was created to eliminate slums and become slums themselves because they were build in poor areas for poor people, so the nature of social influence led to behavior that makes people poor. However when new approach was tried to move poor people into middle class area with vouchers in small numbers, it worked much better because new social influence was prompted behavior that moves people into middle class.


It is one of this books usually written by psychologists and sociologists that seek to understand impact of environment on human behavior, consequently using it to control and direct other people to behave the way controller wants them to. I do not believe that it is possible. The experiments and anecdotes provided in his book are mainly true and they do represent reality. However what is missing is the understanding that reality is very dynamic and so is human perception of reality, making it impossible to control people’s behavior with reliable levels of predictability. As author correctly notes there is mix of needs to conform and to be different making the very fact of interference highly impactful on results. In my opinion it all is pretty good for understanding, but of no use for controlling.


20190804 – Good Reasons for Bad Feelings

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The main idea of this book is that current development of scientific thought is more and more conducted based on evolutionary understanding of biological and specifically human development, which is fully applicable to understanding of mental diseases and disorders. Author reviews results of multiple studies of mental and emotional disorders in view of his experience as clinical psychologist and concludes that evolutionary approach does promise to achieve much better understanding of these problems and possibly define good direction for finding fixes.



Here author describes his interest in application of evolutionary biology to explanation of mental diseases. Author is practicing psychiatrist and he is disturbed by slow progress in this area. So he is trying to use the new approach and believes that its fundamentally new perspective could be instrumental in finding solutions.

Part One: Why Are Mental Disorders So Contusing?

  1. A New Question

Author starts with description of one of cases he had treated when patient claimed that she cannot get consistent explanation of reasons for her problems and 4 different medical professionals provided different recommendations. This led author to understanding that psychiatry is quite confused. After that he discusses difficulties of mental diseases diagnosis and story of DSM from 1 to 5. He discusses relation between process of evolution functioning of human brain and refers to Tinbergen’s 4 questions:

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Author also adds another question: “Why did natural selection leave our bodies with traits that make us vulnerable to disease?”

  1. Are Mental Disorders Diseases?

Here author continues discussion of diagnosis and posits question about nature of mental disorders. He looks at development of sequential DSMs in search of truly scientific definition but could not be satisfied with this. Here is how he defines the problem: “The core problem for psychiatric diagnosis is the lack of a perspective on normal useful functions that physiology provides for the rest of medicine. Internal medicine doctors know the functions of the kidneys. They don’t confuse protective defenses such as cough and pain with diseases such as pneumonia and cancer. Psychiatrists lack a similar framework for the utility of stress, sleep, anxiety, and mood, so psychiatric diagnostic categories remain confusing and crude.

  1. Why Are Minds So Vulnerable?

Here author provides 6 reasons and discusses them in detail:

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Part Two: Reasons for Feelings

4 Good Reasons for Bad Feelings

Here author discusses evolutionary meaning of bad feelings and here they are: “four good reasons for thinking that symptoms have evolutionary origins and utility. First, symptoms such as anxiety and sadness are, like sweating and coughing, not rare changes that occur in a few people at unpredictable times; they are consistent responses that occur in nearly everyone in certain situations. Second, the expression of emotions is regulated by mechanisms that turn them on in specific situations; such control systems can evolve only for traits that influence fitness. Third, absence of a response can be harmful; inadequate coughing can make pneumonia fatal, inadequate fear of heights makes falls more likely. Finally, some symptoms benefit an individual’s genes, despite substantial costs to the individual.

Author also provides definition of emotions:” Emotions are specialized states that adjust physiology, cognition, subjective experience, facial expressions, and behavior in ways that increase the ability to meet the adaptive challenges of situations that have recurred over the evolutionary history of a species.” Finally he provides graphic representation and table:

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  1. Anxiety and Smoke Detectors

Here author concentrate on specific type of emotions that cause lots of psychiatric problems – anxiety and discusses different varieties of it from phobias to PTSD:

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He even applies apparatus from economics – The Marginal Value Theorem, to demonstrate how mood helps to obtain optimal time / effort allocation when picking up berries:

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The final inference: “the capacity for mood can be said to have a general function: mood reallocates investments of time, effort, resources, and risk taking to maximize Darwinian fitness in situations of varying propitiousness. High and low moods adjust cognition and behavior to cope with propitious and unpropitious situations.”

  1. Bad Feelings for No Good Reason: When the Moodostat Fails

Here author moves to the area of pathology when mood variations incapacitate person either by depression or bipolar disorder or by some other malfunction. Author provides general description of such malfunctions:

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Part Three: The Pleasures and Perils of Social Life

8 How to Understand an Individual Human Being

Author begins this chapter with the story of his experience when in the morning he did analytical jobs with numbers and parameters of multiple patients and in the second half of the day he worked with individual patients. He found it very hard to reconcile these two experiences. Eventually he understood that it requires two different approaches: “Explanations based on general laws that are always true he called nomothetic (nomos refers to laws, thetic to a thesis). Explanations based on historical sequences that occur only once he called idiographic (idio refers to individual unique events, graphic to description). “  It helped him to embrace the idea of psychiatric analysis based on live events, even if reaction to similar events is idiosyncratic depending on values, personality, and experience. Author also provides the breakdown of environment impacting individual into various social systems, emotional states, general and specific sets of influences:

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  1. Guilt and Grief: The Price of Goodness and Love

This is about cooperation between people and emotions it creates. Here is how author summarizes its origins:” (1) Benefits to groups of unrelated individuals cannot explain the evolution of extreme human social abilities. (2) Benefits to kin who share the same genes explain most altruistic behavior. (3) Much apparent cooperation among nonrelatives is just individuals doing things that help themselves and that also happen to help others. (4) Extensive cooperation among nonrelatives is explained mostly by reciprocal favor trading. (5) Reciprocity systems shape costly traits for establishing a good reputation. (6) The previous five explanations explain most social behavior in most organisms, but not quite all. They represent a spectacular fundamental advance in human knowledge even though they cannot fully explain human capacities for commitment and moral behavior. Important additional explanations are offered by cultural group selection, commitment, and social selection“. Then he provides table for links between cooperation and emotions based on prisoner’s dilemma with points for win/loose:

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Author then looks at Social Anxiety and Self-Esteem with a bit of discussion about psychopaths and their specifics. The final discussion of this chapter is about Grief and research on older couples that demonstrated surprising ease with which many people were able overcame it after a few months since the loss. Interesting point author makes about anniversaries. Often people experience unexplained sadness until they realize that it is anniversary of loss.

  1. Know Thyself—Not!

Here author refer to psychoanalysis, which he considers debunked and admits that there is something to its idea of repression. Then he proceeds to discuss psychological studies of the adaptive unconscious and how to access one’s own motives and emotions.

Part Four: Out-of Control Actions and Dire Disorders.

  1. Bad Sex Can Be Good—for Our Genes

Author starts with the sexual fantasy of the world in which everybody finds ideal partner and has perfect sex with them. Then he moves to discuss partner selection and its evolutionary meaning. On the side he provides evolutionary explanation of homosexuality as option exercised by family oriented species in conditions adverse for new family creation. In birds it means adults cold not build viable new nest and stays with parents providing support to siblings, consequently supporting 50% of their DNA. Author also discusses here sex frequency in marriage and problems when it is out of synch between partners.

  1. Primal Appetites

This chapter is about eating problems that author characterizes as failures of homeostatic control systems. From this point of view obesity is similar to the great many other diseases. He then discusses contemporary environment, which is very challenging to humans because of technological enticement of various kinds from candies and junk food to pornography and sex robots.

  1. Good Feelings for Bad Reasons

This is about people who consciously choose self-harmful behavior, which nevertheless satisfies their needs to feel good and enjoy whatever this behavior produces from alcoholic stupor to venereal diseases. He then discusses evolutionary meaning of drugs production by plants and use of drugs by humans.

  1. Minds Unbalanced on Fitness Cliffs

In this final chapter author discusses reasons for mental diseases and hopes for DNA decoding to fix everything that were dashed in the last 20 years. He then provides a graph for the Standard model of evolutionary fitness followed by Cliff-Edged model:

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Epilogue: Evolutionary Psychiatry: A Bridge, Not an Island

The epilogue discusses Evolutionary Psychiatry as bridge between evolutionary biology and psychiatry, which is valuable for two reasons:  “In the long term, an evolutionary perspective will transform our understanding of mental disorders in ways that lead to better treatments. In the short term, evolutionary perspectives can be somewhat helpful even now.” This helpfulness comes in the form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapies and better understanding of various disorders by psychiatrists.


I think that evolutionary approach is much wider than pure biology. It also applies to information systems, technology, sociology, and all other areas in which there are systems, continuously changing whether randomly or not with following up test for fitness. So it could and should be applied as major methodological tool to research and understand human beings and their mental conditions. I think that most productive way would be longitudinal studies on individuals throughout their lifetime to identify periods of perfect functioning, some positive or negative deviations, and dynamics of changes from one state to another. The treatment of mental problems without knowledge of what is normal for the specific individual is like trying to repair car without knowing its make, year, mileage, and details of how it normally works. Humans quite a bit more complicated, so need much more data collection to understand how individual psyche works when it is OK and what variation from this OK state developed that makes it fail.