The Truth about Cinderella


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A Darwinian View of Parental Love

Martin Daly and Margo Wilson

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A child is one hundred times more likely to be abused or killed by a stepparent than by a genetic parent, say two scientists in this startling book. Martin Daly and Margo Wilson show that the mistreatment of stepchildren, long a staple of folk tales, has a solid basis in fact; Daly and Wilson apply the perspective of evolutionary psychology to investigate why stepparenthood is different from genetic parenthood and why steprelationships succeed or fail.

Martin Daly and Margo Wilson are professors of psychology at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario.

A selection of the Natural Science Book Club

"An important book. . . . The implications are profound."—Brenda Maddox, Daily Mail

"A short but fascinating book . . . [that] suggests that cruel step-parents are far from a myth. They are the uncomfortable, but literal, truth."—Nigel Hawkes, The Times (London)

"The most shocking book of the [Darwinism Today] series. . . . Psychologists Martin Daly and Margo Wilson make a powerful argument that one of folklore's stock characters, the abusive stepparent, has considerable basis in fact. . . . A logical, if brutal, evolutionary analysis."—Publishers Weekly

"Daly and Wilson argue that step-parents lack a genetic interest in their stepchildren. . . . This is an illuminating illustration of the problems of evolutionary psychology." —R. Brian Ferguson, Natural History

"A series of entertaining booklets based on the Darwin Seminars at the London School of Economics. Vehicles for popularizing evolutionary theory, these slim, cross-disciplinary books have been called 'bulletins from the barricades of an intellectual revolution.' . . . They provide a quick look at how some people are applying evolutionary ideas today."—R. Brian Ferguson, Natural History

"Buy these books by the dozen, and send them to all of your relations instead of Christmas cards."—Richard Dawkins, author of The Selfish Gene

"Bulletins from the barricades of an intellectual revolution—these radicals know how to write."—Matt Ridley, author of The Origins of Virtue

"These fascinating and provocative pieces explore new implications of ‘the most important idea that anyone ever had.’ Whether you agree or disagree, you will not fail to be stimulated."—Steven Pinker, author of How the Mind Works

"[Yale's] Darwinism Today series . . . is sure to generate heat as well as light."—Booklist

"Geared toward general readers who want to broaden their understanding of how evolution may affect their everyday life."—Susan Styer, Science Books & Films

"This book will make an excellent supplementary reading for a variety of courses in psychology, sociology and human biology. In this eye-opening look at the inherently engaging issue of child care, empirical results are routinely discussed from a critical stance, and the pros and cons of different perspectives are considered. Ultimately, the power of evolutionary theory is amply displayed. Students will learn quite a few ‘facts’ from this mini-book and, more importantly, learn about the complications of interpreting empirical results and using them to evaluate scientific theories."—Human Ethology Bulletin

ISBN: 9780300080292
Publication Date: October 11, 1999
80 pages, 4 1/2 x 7
Darwinism Today Series
A Darwinian Left

Politics, Evolution and Cooperation

Peter Singer

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