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Sex, Power, and Partisanship: How Evolutionary Science Makes Sense of Our Political Divide (Paperback)
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An evolutionary psychologist traces the roots of political divisions back to our primate ancestors and male-dominated social hierarchies.
Through the lens of evolutionary science, this book offers a novel perspective on why we hold our political ideas, and why they are so often in conflict. Drawing on examples from across the animal kingdom, clinical psychologist Hector A. Garcia reveals how even the most complex political processes can be influenced by our basic drives to survive and reproduce--including the policies we back, whether we are liberal or conservative, and whether we are inspired or repelled by the words of a president.
The author demonstrates how our political orientations derive from an ancestral history of violent male competition, surprisingly influencing how we respond to issues as wide-ranging as affirmative action, women's rights, social welfare, abortion, foreign policy, and even global warming. Critically, the author shows us how our instinctive political tribalism can keep us from achieving stable, functioning societies, and offers solutions for rising above our ancestral past.
About the Author
Hector A. Garcia, Psy.D., is the author of Alpha God: The Psychology of Religious Violence and Oppression. He is an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and a clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder in combat veterans. He has published extensively on evolutionary psychology, stress and politics in organizations, and the interplay between war and masculine identity.
“Hector A. Garcia draws upon the latest in evolutionary science to examine political partisanship and how our past shapes the way we fight for our future. This book will have a profound effect on how you view political discourse, immigration issues, women’s rights, and, yes, even Donald Trump.”
—Juliet Blake, film and TV producer and head of TED TV
“Why has our political system become so divided and divisive along many lines? Why, for example, do pro-life conservatives support life-ending things like war, guns, and capital punishment, and why do free-speech-supporting liberals want to silence speakers they disagree with? Proximate explanations are provided by political scientists, but deeper ultimate answers must come from psychology and evolutionary theory, which the estimable Hector A. Garcia provides in this illuminating work of science and politics, the timing of which could not be more vital as our country is coming apart over seemingly intractable controversies. A must-read if you care about our future.”
—Michael Shermer, Presidential Fellow, Chapman University, and author of The Believing Brain and The Moral Arc
“Places sexual competition right where it should be—at the center of political orientation and behavior. This engagingly written book lives in current events. It draws highly controversial conclusions based on solid research that challenge readers who are either on the left or right. For instance, Donald Trump’s exploitation of women makes him more attractive to his female voters. This page-turner is destined to receive a lot of attention.”
—Nigel Barber, evolutionary psychologist, author, and blogger at Psychology Today
“This book explains everything! It is easy to say that human behavior boils down to biology, but Hector A. Garcia actually proves it. With an impressive breadth of scholarship and clear thinking, he takes us on a delightful ride through the prehistoric savannah, and beyond, to shine an extraordinary light on the ancient evolutionary forces behind our current political clashes.”
—Dan Barker, author of Mere Morality
“Relying on exhaustive research in evolutionary biology, Garcia takes us back to the Stone Age when human struggles for sexual access and dominance originated. Much of what we find perplexing and dismaying about today’s ‘tribal’ conflicts—between men and women and across the political divide—is convincingly explained by his revealing ‘reverse engineering’ of our species.”
—John V. H. Dippel, author of War and Sex
"Sex, Power, and Partisanship will surprise and delight you. Garcia shows how much of our political alignment is consistent with evolutionary predictions based especially on male-female considerations. Whether you’re an evolutionary scientist, an involved citizen, or just someone hungry for terrific new ideas, you’ll love this accessible yet consequential book.”
—David P. Barash, Professor of Psychology Emeritus, University of Washington, coauthor of Strength through Peace, and author of Through a Glass Brightly: Using Science to See Our Species as We Really Are
“The best book to date using the science of evolutionary psychology to understand how our brains are still tuned to a Stone Age world of frequent conflict and unshakable tribal loyalties. Achieving peace and political stability demands recognizing where we come from, while rejoicing that understanding our origins permits us to do a lot better than our Stone Age ancestors. Hector A. Garcia provides the depth of scientific knowledge, combined with comprehensive referencing and objectivity, to follow our better angels. In the age of alpha male Trump, this is essential for our sanity—and perhaps for the survival of democracy.”
—Malcolm Potts, MD, PhD, author of Sex and War