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Digital Subscriptions > Skeptical Inquirer > Jan Feb 2017 > NEW AND NOTABLE


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CHEATS AND DECEITS: How Animals and Plants Exploit and Mislead . Martin Stevens. In this book, Martin Stevens, associate professor of sensory and evolutionary ecology at the University of Exeter, examines how trickery and deception are widespread in nature. Animals and plants mimic other objects or species in the environment for protection, to trick other species into rearing their young, to lure prey to their death, and to deceive potential mates for reproduction. Harmless butterflies, for example, mimic the wing patterning of a poisonous butterfly to avoid being eaten. Cheats and Deceits describes the remarkable range of such adaptations in nature and considers how they have evolved as part of an arms race between predator and prey or host and parasite. Skeptics are inherently interested in deception—not only how people mislead each other but also how people fool themselves. Stevens’s book reminds us that trickery, in all its many forms, is common in the world around us and is indeed part of evolution and life itself. Oxford University Press, 2016, 296 pp, $34.95.

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