An entertaining and revealing look at the science behind the emotion of disgust. Disgust originated to prevent us from eating poisonous food, but this simple safety mechanism has since evolved into a uniquely human emotion that dictates how we treat others, shapes our cultural norms, and even has implications for our mental and physical health.
That's Disgusting illuminates the science behind disgust, tackling such colorful topics as cannibalism, humor, and pornography to address larger questions: Why do sources of disgust vary among people and societies? Where does disgust come from in our brain and what deeper fears does it reflect? How does disgust influence our individual personalities, our daily lives, and our values? It turns out that disgust underlies more than we realize, from political ideologies to the lure of horror movies.
Drawing on surprising research in psychology and evolutionary biology, That's Disgusting shows us that disgust mirrors human nature and, as a result, is as complex and varied as we are.
"[Herz's] strength as a researcher and author are apparent in her ability to cite and explain academic studies in a conversational manner." (The Washington Post)
"[Herz] manages it quite admirably: to be vivid and true to her subject without getting so revolting that her readers react the way we react to anything that disgusts us, which is by trying to get as far away as possible." (The New York Times Book Review)
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Entertaining, marred by conclusory findings
I loved the fun she had with the topic and the exploration of how individualized disgust can be. I least liked her tendency to overstate the conclusions of the studies cited.
Immensely entertaining and interesting, if not for the feint of stomach, exploration of disgust. The book moves quickly and is pretty close to un-put-downable. That said, this book is solidly pop science and the author does not fully back up her conclusions. I enjoy pop science as well as the next person, but throughout the book you get the feeling that she is interpreting all her data to support her conclusions, rather than letting the data guide her conclusion. Many of her pronouncements seem too pat and her discussion of disgust being an evolutionary adaption to keep us alive overstates the evidence and is internally inconsistent at times (she simultaneously makes arguments that this is an evolved response that no other animal has, but then claims it is also a learned response that children have not developed -- arguments that veer awfully close to being mutually exclusive). Regardless of its shortcomings, it will make you think and might make you shudder, and will definitely make you reexamine what you find disgusting and why.
- S. Yates
Fascinating insight to what seems a simple topic.
Yes. Time well spent. A great introduction to a strange facet of human experience.
Yes. Well read.
Not really movie material.