About the Book

Mean Genes

Mean Genes

From Sex To Money To Food: Taming Our Primal Instincts
2nd Edition
October 2012
Trade Paperback · 320 Pages
$16.99 U.S. · $19.99 CAN · €11.99 E.U.
ISBN 9780465031245
Basic Books


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Why do we want—and why do we do—so many things that are bad for us? And how can we stop? In Mean Genes economist Terry Burnham and biologist Jay Phelan offer advice on how to conquer our own worst enemy—our survival-minded genes. Having evolved in a time of scarcity, when our ancestors struggled to survive in the wild, our genes are poorly adapted to the convenience of modern society. They compel us to overeat, spend our whole paycheck, and cheat on our spouses. But knowing how they work, Burnham and Phelan show that we can trick these "mean genes" into submission and cultivate behaviors that will help us lead better lives. A lively, humorous guide to our evolutionary heritage, Mean Genes illuminates how we can use an understanding of our biology to beat our instincts—before they beat us.

About the Authors

Terry Burnham is associate professor of finance at Chapman University. He lives in Orange County, California.

Jay Phelan is a professor of biology at UCLA. He lives in Los Angeles, California.