Books et al.Neuroscience

Unleashing the beast within

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Science  15 Jan 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6270, pp. 232
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad7138

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Economists like to assert that humans are cool calculators of maximal utility, considering all options, then deciding on a course of action that leads to the best outcome possible. In this light, it seems puzzling that the news is chock full of reports of people who seem to violate this presumption, sometimes violently. Why We Snap by R. Douglas Fields attempts to explain the seeming paradox from the perspective of neuroscience. In doing so, the book nicely illustrates an irony of evolution: Much of what evolved to keep us safe can get us into serious trouble in the modern world.