Mean Genes

  • by Terry Burnham, Jay Phelan
  • Narrated by Pat Woodruff
  • 7 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Why do we want - and do - so many things that are bad for us? We vow to lose those extra five pounds, put money in the bank, and mend neglected relationships, but our attempts often end in failure. Our toughest battles, it seems, are with ourselves. To understand this fundamental aspect of human nature, Terry Burnham and Jay Phelan argue, we need to stop looking to Sigmund Freud - and start looking to Charles Darwin.Short, sassy, and bold Mean Genes reveals that our struggles for self-improvement are, in fact, battles against our own genes - genes that helped our distant ancestors flourish, but are selfish and out of place in the modern world.Using this evolutionary lens, Mean Genes brilliantly examines the issues that most affect our lives: body image, money, addiction, violence, and the endless search for friendship, love, and fidelity. But Burnham and Phelan don't simply describe the connections between genes and behavior. They use this knowledge to offer steps for improving the quality of our lives.Why do we love fast food? Why is the road to romance so rocky? Must happiness always be elusive? What drives us into debt? An intrepid investigation into the biological nature of temptation and the struggle for control, Mean Genes answers these and other fundamental questions about human behavior, while giving us an edge to lead satisfying says "It's not some corny self-help book either. It doesn't preach. In fact, it doesn't care if you continue to abuse yourself beyond recognition. It just attempts to explain why you bought that car you can't afford, ate that box of donuts you don't need and why, lordy lord, you continue to drink that cheap, generic beer when your bladder and liver are begging for an elevated variety."


What the Critics Say

"Mean Genes is a surprisingly fun read, filled with amazing data that could keep any reader talking through many cocktail parties" (Boston Globe)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Entertaining and Informative

"Mean Genes" is one of the best Audible books I've heard. It's read with a light tone and full of fascinating information about how our biological coding affects us. It is not full of jargon or high level scientific terms. It's aimed at the educated and curious individual. Very good "reading"!
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- Paul

Entertainment, not Science

I was disappointed; I expected "Scientific American" and what I got was "People Magazine". Mean Genes is targeted at an audience who slept through high school biology. Everything is presented in the simplest of terms, and at no point do the authors go into any particular depth. If you want more than a very light mix of science with your entertainment, give this a pass.
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- Jen

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-31-2000
  • Publisher: Random House Audio