Skip to content

Book Discussion "Survival of the Friendliest" by Brian Hare & Vanessa Woods

Photo of Kevin & Paula
Hosted By
Kevin & P.
Book Discussion "Survival of the Friendliest" by Brian Hare & Vanessa Woods


Our book for June is Survival of the Friendliest: Understanding Our Origins and Rediscovering Our Common Humanity by researchers Brian Hare & Vanessa Woods.

From Amazon:
Since Charles Darwin wrote about “evolutionary fitness,” the idea of fitness has been confused with physical strength, tactical brilliance, and aggression. In fact, what made us evolutionarily fit was a remarkable kind of friendliness, a virtuosic ability to coordinate and communicate with others that allowed us to achieve all the cultural and technical marvels in human history. Advancing what they call the “self-domestication theory,” Brian Hare… and his wife, Vanessa Woods,…shed light on the mysterious leap in human cognition that allowed Homo sapiens to thrive.

But this gift for friendliness came at a cost. Just as a mother bear is most dangerous around her cubs, we are at our most dangerous when someone we love is threatened by an “outsider.” The threatening outsider is demoted to sub-human, fair game for our worst instincts. Hare’s groundbreaking research…reveals that the same traits that make us the most tolerant species on the planet also make us the cruelest. Survival of the Friendliest offers us a new way to look at our cultural as well as cognitive evolution and sends a clear message: In order to survive and even to flourish, we need to expand our definition of who belongs.

“An utterly persuasive explanation for why the human psyche has evolved to be dangerous – and what to do about it. It should be read by every politician and every schoolchild.”—Richard Wrangham, author of The Goodness Paradox

Photo of The Humanist Association of Connecticut group
The Humanist Association of Connecticut
See more events