Spent: Sex, Evolution and the Secrets of Consumerism by Geoffrey Miller - review by Colin Tudge

Colin Tudge

It Pays Not To Be Nice

Spent: Sex, Evolution and the Secrets of Consumerism


William Heinemann 384pp £20 order from our bookshop

Around 1990 the marketing manager of an organisation of which I was a trustee assured me that her specialty was an exact science. She had an MSc in flogging stuff, she said, and knew exactly what she was doing. Since the organisation was on the point of bankruptcy I had my doubts. Twenty years later, Geoffrey Miller tells us that we were both right – and both wrong. Marketing could indeed be much more of a science than it is, but the science that is currently brought to bear on it is hopelessly wide of the mark. What’s really needed is evolutionary psychology. 

Evo psy has not had a good press, nor done itself many favours – but in principle Miller is surely right. As the Ukrainian-American geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky commented in 1973, ‘Nothing makes sense in biology except in the light of evolution’ – and biology includes animal and human

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