The history of science is filled with ideas that went completely against the conventional grain but were eventually proven true. DENIAL is about the critical transition in the emergence of the human mind that led to our becoming the dominant species on the planet. Going beyond traditional theories of evolution, Ajit Varki and the late Danny Brower suggest that it is not in fact a physiological leap that set us apart from the other intelligent species, but a psychological one: namely, the uniquely human capacity for denying realities in the face of inarguable facts--including the willful ignorance of even our own deaths.
DENIAL elegantly makes the case that, as a species, we breached this long-standing psychological barrier by simultaneously developing the ability to attribute mental states to others and to deny crucial aspects of reality--especially when reality is not to our liking (take smoking, for instance; we know it's harmful, but we do it anyway). The terror of acknowledging our own mortality would cause us to favor personal survival over passing on our genes--an evolutionary dead end, to be sure.
Varki and Brower's radical new theory demonstrates that only in understanding how we evolved can we ever hope to imagine where it is we go from here.