Book review: The Age of Empathy, by Frans de Waal

Frans de Waal is a primatologist and ethologist at Emory University. In The Age of Empathy, he argues that empathy is an inherent biological trait, not only for humans, but for other species as well. Due to this, he wants humans to accept this and start treating your fellow beings with dignity and respect.

Overall I enjoyed the book. The introduction can come off as anti-capitalist, but de Waal clarifies what he means later in the book. He is from Europe and has lived in the United States for a long time so he has witnessed the benefits and drawbacks of both economic systems. If pressed, he said that he would have a difficult time choosing which he prefers more. More inequity but more wealth overall and more of an incentive-driven system (United States), versus less inequity, fewer poor but less of an incentive-driven system (Europe).

I think the book brings up a few interesting ideas:

Is empathy involuntary or voluntary?
de Waal argues that it is involuntary and built into our evolut…

Book review: The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone, by Dan Ariely

The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone, by Dan Ariely

This work by Dan Ariely is both informative and enjoyable. If you’re interested in behavioral economics, psychology or just about the concept of dishonesty in general, I recommend that you check out this book. His main thesis is that we, as human beings, all want to benefit from cheating, but only by a little bit. This is because we are also beings that want to think of ourselves as moral and honest. The constant push and pull from these two seemingly contradictory concepts is what Ariely’s book is all about. He refers to this as the “fudge factor.” What situations make us more likely to cheat or be dishonest? Which are more likely to make us tell the truth? Is being dishonest always a conscious act? If not, is there a way to control dishonesty? These are all very intriguing questions and Ariely provides an abundance of experiments throughout the book as evidence to support claims that attempt to answer them.

An …