Monday, November 26, 2007

Dangerous Ideas: Howard Bloom

It has been my intention to write a review of Howard Bloom's Lucifer Principle since the day I started ths blog. It is one of the most fascinating books I've ever read, the kind of book that changes the way you look at the world, the kind of book that alters your conceptual frameworks. I've read it twice yet still feel that I couldn't do a high level review justice.

On "The Lucifer Principle" from Publishers Weekly:
The "Lucifer Principle" is freelance journalist Bloom's theory that evil-which manifests in violence, destructiveness and war-is woven into our biological fabric. A corollary is that evil is a by-product of nature's strategy to move the world to greater heights of organization and power as national or religious groups follow ideologies that trigger lofty ideals as well as base cruelty. In an ambitious, often provocative study, Bloom applies the ideas of sociobiology, ethology and the "killer ape" school of anthropology to the broad canvas of history, with examples ranging from Oliver Cromwell's reputed pleasure in killing and raping to Mao Tse-tung's bloody Cultural Revolution, India's caste system and Islamic fundamentalist expansion. Bloom says Americans suffer "perceptual shutdown" that blinds them to the United States' downward slide in the pecking order of nations. His use of concepts like pecking order, memes (self-replicating clusters of ideas), the "neural net" or group mind of the social "superorganism" seem more like metaphors than explanatory tools.

That said, it was relieved to find the following videos online that allow me to present Howard himself and take the burden of summary off of my plate. Enjoy.

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