Review by Erika Engelhaupt
IBOOK REVIEW: The depths of human cruelty are often summed up in one stark term: evil. But definitions of evil are frustratingly circular, since evil is as evil does. “For a scientist this is, of course, wholly inadequate,” writes Baron-Cohen, a developmental psychologist specializing in autism. He suggests that “evil” is more properly defined as a complete lack of empathy, the ability to imagine and respond emotionally to another person’s thoughts. Empathy, he argues, is distributed througout the population as a bell curve, with those at the low end of the curve populating psychiatric categories such as psychopathy, narcissism and borderline personality disorder.
The book argues that the roots of the empathy bell curve lie in the brain and are shaped both by gen