“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: Evil: the Science Behind Humanity’s Dark Side.

Evil: the Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side
Expected publication date February 27, 2019 Abrams Press, New York.

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 epithet as a description. Even though there are points on which most would agree, there’s no standard measure of ‘evil.’ The judgment of humans and institutions is filtered through the perspective of what is normal for each particular culture.

Some of the dark humor topics found in internet memes. (Picture origin is unknown, not from the book.)

The book discusses this weighty subject in a way that would be useful in an educational or professional setting. However, without dumbing down her language, she’s made the book easily understood and fascinating for ordinary readers.

Though it isn’t a religious book, religion is discussed, as well as other controversial but pertinent topics.

I thoroughly enjoyed it — as a parent, a concerned citizen, a writer, a crime fiction fan, and an imperfect human being. I still feel guilty, but I’m pretty sure that I’m not evil.

The Garden of Earthly Delights
The Garden of Earthly Delights, the modern title given to a tryptich painted by Hieronymus Bosch circa 1490-1510. The Garden of Earthly Delights at Wikipedia

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