Evil by Julia Shaw


What is it about evil that we find so compelling? From our obsession with serial killers to violence in pop culture, we seem inescapably drawn to the stories of monstrous acts and the aberrant people who commit them. But evil, Dr. Julia Shaw argues, is all relative, rooted in our unique cultures. What one may consider normal, like sex before marriage, eating meat, or being a banker, others find abhorrent. And if evil is only in the eye of the beh...

Details Evil

Release DateFeb 26th, 2019
PublisherHarry N. Abrams
GenreNonfiction, Psychology, Science, Crime, True Crime, Mystery, Sociology, Audiobook, Philosophy, Adult, Medical

Reviews Evil

  • Meike
    As this is a "popular science" book, I didn't expect to be confronted with rigorous academic postulations and intricate arguments that can only be understood by insiders, but this was way too shallow for my taste (and I am not an expert in any of the fields Shaw discusses). I really wanted to like this, but unfortunately, I didn't learn much, and Shaw's impulse to talk about herself and preach to her readers didn't help either - not because her s...
  • Joseph
    There is an old illusion. It is called good and evil.Fredrick NietzscheEvil: The Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side by Julia Shaw is a study of evil and an attempt to define evil. Shaw is a German-Canadian psychologist and popular science writer who specializes in false memories. She started a BSc in psychology at the Simon Fraser University. She went on to complete a Masters in Psychology and Law at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. In ...
  • Juli
    What is evil? What makes certain choices and actions evil? Does evil exist independently? Or does it need an opposite...good...to manifest? Is evil subjective....or universal?Dr. Julia Shaw takes a close in-depth look at evil in her new book. But this isn't the sort of book that most might expect. It isn't a bloody dissection of evil behavior in detail, or a discussion of pros and cons about punishment or treatment for those who commit serious ac...
  • Krista
    We make evil when we label something so. Evil exists as a word, as a subjective concept. But I firmly believe there is no person, no group, no behaviour, no thing that is objectively evil. Perhaps evil only really exists in our fears. I like books about the brain and human behaviour, and I thought that Julia Shaw's Evil:The Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side might give insight into what makes this “dark side” tick. But that's not really what...
  • Aaron Schmuhl
    So, this is a hard book to review. It's mostly hard because I don't want it to seem like I think it's a bad book, but the alternative is that there really isn't anything to hang your hat on with it. The cover says "The Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side," but that really isn't what the book is about. Yes, there's some science and studies referenced in the book, but a more accurate subtitle is "Why Nothing is Really Evil." So, if you're looking f...
  • Erin
    Shaw's main question for her readers is this: should we as a society be using the word evil? Is it okay to label someone evil, in turn forever damning them for their bad decisions? Shaw doesn't think we should - that there are many facets of someone 'turning evil' and that we need to do better to understand these people's behaviors (like pedophilia or psychopathy) instead of deeming them less than. I tend to not agree with Shaw's hypothesis (I do...
  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/'Without understanding, we risk dehumanizing others, writing off human beings simply because we don’t comprehend them.'That is a loaded sentence and Evil is a strange beast, one we can’t ever contain because it’s slippery. The face of evil changes with time, what is evil today may be the norm tomorrow. One thing this book will do is make you squirm, because when discussing evil we remove ou...
  • Amirography
    To be honest, I'm disappointed. Her book on fake memories was very educational and interesting. And the sentiment and courage behind this book were amazing. But the content in this book was not as detailed and interesting as I hoped. Her citations and arguments did not impress me. I mean relying on Zimbardo's Standford prison experiment was disappointing, as anyone who dug deep into this experiment would know how fraudulent, unreliable, questiona...
  • Cathy
    2.5 starsSome chapters were more interesting than others and this raises some valid questions, but ultimately I didn't get what I wanted out of this book. The author's writing/narration didn't work for me because she often came across as sounding vaguely condescending and there was a preachy quality to it all, which I hate.Also, if I never hear the word 'dehumanise' again, it will be too soon.I do give the author kudos for being so open about her...
  • Bob
    As an ethics instructor, I am delighted to have read Julia Shaw's book, Evil: The Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side. Dr. Shaw does an outstanding job of elucidating the nuances of a rich bio-psycho-social perspective of despicable behavior. Now, I have a wealth of great examples, provocative research findings, and thoughtful questions for debate to share and help learners see the science and philosophy behind evil. Plus, reading this book was l...
  • Lynn Coulter
    I'm not confident at all about sharing my opinions of Julia Shaw's new book, Evil: the Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side. After all, Ms. Shaw is a senior lecturer in psychology and criminology at London South Bank University, and I have expertise in neither field. But I just can't agree with the conclusions she draws from case studies of serial killers and criminals. I agree with her finding that readers fascinated by evil, and I understand wha...
  • Antonio Delgado
    This book is an accessible approach to the problem of evil without the academic jargon but with the proper academic and responsible rigor. Offering more than answers, Julia Shaw takes us to question a priori conception(s) of evil. Simply put it, it is easy to use the later of evil than to deal with reality. Shaw challenges us to think and to have a dialogue with ourselves regarding our own capacity for committing acts that often fall into that ca...
  • Counsel182
    Evil spelled backwards is live.I gave this book one star in an attempt to get in touch with my evil self. It is not because the book necessarily deserves one star. It is finely written. It presents an interesting concept. Parts of the book are rather fascinating. However, the basic premise of the book and certain portions of it are frankly repugnant. Ms. Shaw posits the idea that it is time to re-think 'evil' as a concept. The idea of labeling (s...
  • Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)
    A long time ago, I received this book as an ARC. However, it was one of those that would only be sent to my computer. I hate reading on my computer, so I really tried it since this is an interesting topic, but I gave up and just said I wouldn't give feedback.That being said, I finally got the book from the library and read it!Now, I find this topic interesting. There were tons of interesting things in here. Pedophiles, paraphilias, the bystander ...
  • Valerie
    **I won an uncorrected proof of this book through a Goodreads.com Giveaway**At last! A book addressing that most elusive of topics-- Evil. Dr. Julia Shaw, criminologist & psychologist, is quite an expert on the subject. In this devourable book, she explores evil in all its inhuman guises--sadism, slavery, cybercrime, murder, torture, terrorism, and more-- and reveals it to be infinitely human. I enjoy Dr. Shaw's conversational style as much as I ...
  • Emily
    **I received this digital ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**This title caught my attention right away, because I, like many other people, am caught up in the true crime zeitgeist. Also, I'm alive and a part of this mucky world right now, so this kind of exploration seems important. I don't disagree with her thesis ultimately: that evil is not a useful construct through which to view human behavior. The book also has a couple o...
  • Davis Parker
    The book starts off strong with an academic discussion of what makes something "evil" and why humans interpret certain traits or characteristics as good or bad. As someone who believes there is such a thing as objective evil (not just a subjective one), I thought her points were well made and had useful applications in society, for example how we should think about criminals and criminal behavior.About halfway through the book, specifically the c...
  • Catriona
    “When we talk about evil, we tend to turn our attention to Hitler.” This catchy first sentence begins Dr. Julia Shaw’s excellent, up-to-date analysis. She points out that, on the internet, it seems as if “…every comment thread will eventually lead to a Hitler comparison.” But, as ‘Hitler’ has become a synonym for ‘evil,’ the sheer volume of people and actions compared to the WWII dictator results in the weakening of the epithe...
  • Shaela
    This book will take your concept of evil and flip it on its head, making gray all the originally black and white things you knew about both evil and yourself.In Evil, author Julia Shaw illustrates the common perceptions of and beliefs around "evil" and then questions them with fresh, compelling, and stimulating arguments, case studies, philosophical questions, and scientific research. Would you kill baby Hitler, even though committing murder is f...
  • Paul
    This book is completely banal (that's a joke; see Hannah Arendt on Adolph Eichmann). Actually, this book is fascinating and pretty easy to read for having been written by a Ph.D. in psychology. It deals, of course, with the question of whether essential Evil exists, or whether evil just is defined by behavior in certain circumstances, and whether certain people or groups could be called purely evil. The author, who is a delightful writer, conclud...
  • Lynn
    Three observations:1). This is one of the dumbest books by an apparently smart person I have read in a long time.2) I probably shouldn't have expected much from a book on ethics that offers a quote from Nietzsche before every chapter.3) It is amazing how deeply the author is blinded to any other reality by her own social and personal preferences. She knows how the world should be, and we should just shut up and listen.Her basic premise is true bu...
  • Latkins
    This is a fascinating book about what we mean when we describe 'evil'. The author, Dr Shaw, argues that people and actions aren't evil in themselves, but only in how we perceive them, and that dismissing terrible acts as 'evil' is dangerous, as it stops us from trying to understand why they happen, and perhaps prevent them from happening. Dealing with issues as diverse as the holocaust, murder, rape, paedophilia, exploitation and modern slavery, ...
  • Kristy
    **Thank you to NetGalley for a free copy of Evil: The Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side in exchange for an honest review.**Dr. Julia Shaw tackles the interesting subject of evil using thorough research and evidence. Does evil truly exist? Shaw delves into topics such as serial killers, pedophiles, zoophiles, terrorists and Nazis. She argues that what most consider evil isn't simply black and white. And boy does she get into that gray area!
  • Michele
    I wanted to like this book. I really did. But I can't. It is a popular science book but the subtile " The Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side" should really be " Why Nothing is Really Evil." Does it have science? Yes it does have some, but that gets lost in the author either talking about herself or moralizing to the reader. Even the last chapter, "And I Said Nothing," which, I feel, was the best, couldn't get away from the moralizing.
  • Hannah
    This was pretty interesting, actually made me think a lot about the word “evil”. Can’t say I completely agree with Shaw, but I enjoyed her arguments.
  • Eric Sala
    I came across this book because i am a big fan of psychology and murder. I really enjoyed this book that talked about obsession with serial killers to violence in pop culture. The author, Julia uses case studies from academia, examples from popular culture, and compares to everyday life. Awesome fun and very suspenseful.
  • Andy
    This book offers some great insights into the psychology of what we as society today often consider "evil". It reflects on many different elements involved, from the factors that can lead to the Stanford-prison experiment and the bystander effect, to the question of what is sexually "deviant" or normal. Throughout all chapters, the language is easy to understand and all psychological terms are very well explained and put into context. Additionall...
  • Sumomi (Privater Account)
    if it wasn't for some important messages I would only give it 3 stars. I didn't like the narrator and the whole storytelling style is annoying me. Also there was a lot of stuff I read before. Especially in times where people tend to start de-humanizing people again, it is important to understand mechanisms that allow people to be cruel and toxic, so that's why I gave 4 stars.
  • Bimal Patel
    Is Evil an absolute entity or does it depend on our perspective i.e is it subjective judgement hat we pass related to an act? How do you define Evil? Are some people evil and others by dichotomy not evil? The book Evil: The Science Behind Humanity's Dark Site by Julia Shaw sheds light on these and many more perceived or factual biases against what our society considers Evil. I think we all have evil tendencies but they are sub-clinical that let's...
  • Jill Elizabeth
    OK, kudos to Julia Shaw for a VERY thought-provoking book - albeit one that I often disagreed with... Shaw has put together an interesting argument and analysis in support of it. I can agree with her basic premise that knee-jerk "that/he/she is EVIL!" pronouncements based on a small number of "facts" and/or singular details is destructive not only to the person/thing being pronounced but also to society as a whole because it oversimplifies and "o...