The Evolution of Deceit

Robert Trivers, a professor of anthropology and biological sciences, probably knows more about the mechanics and meaning of deception than almost anybody else in the world, and his new book, “The Folly of Fools,” covers pretty much anything you’d want to know about the topic. The book is an attempt to connect the mechanics of deceit to evolutionary science, and takes a broad survey of the areas in which the two overlap, including animal predation, parenting, and people’s sex lives. High parasite load, he discovers, for example, is correlated with heightened levels of self-deception, and high levels of deceit, he finds, are closely tied to bad health. Expansive, smart and deep, the book — a relentlessly fascinating and entertaining read — will change the way you think about lying. Salon spoke to Trivers over the phone about Arnold Schwarzenegger, “don’t ask, don’t tell” and the connection between staying in the closet and HIV.

A fascinating read on the neuroscience of deception from Salon.