How Seemingly Senseless Acts
Make Life Worth Living
"This is a fascinating well researched book about a fascinating subject. You will learn a lot."
— Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace
"RITUAL is a deep, engaging, magnificent book ... Xygalatas walks through fire himself, literally and intellectually, to share great wisdom about the human condition."
— Nicholas A. Christakis, NY Times bestselling author of Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society
"An important intellectual contribution and a true delight to read."
—Paul Bloom, Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto and author of, most recently, The Sweet Spot: The pleasures of suffering and the search for meaning
"Rich in ethnographic detail, personal narratives and psychological experiments, Ritual tells us how we can use this new science, and the wisdom embedded in ancient traditions, to elevate our lives, improve our health and strengthen our communities. "
—Joe Henrich, Professor and Chair of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, and author of The WEIRDest People in the World
One of the best studies of ritual in years. In elegant, clean prose, Xygalatas draws on traditional ethnography and contemporary social science to show that rituals play a central role in the way we define who we are and in the health of our bodies. The book is a superb introduction both to classic anthropological theory and the modern science that extends its insights. Xygalatas shows that humans are indeed the ritual species.
—Tanya Luhrmann, Albert Ray Lang Professor of Anthropology at Stanford, and author of How God Becomes Real
"In this striking, wonderfully written, and original new book, Dimitris Xygalatas unravels the mystery of how rituals--from the mundane to the bizarrely violent--can be the source of transformative power. "
"Packed full of engaging case studies and experiments, this book is an entertaining and engaging introduction to the cognitive science of ritual by one of the pioneers of the field."
— Dr. Edward Slingerland, Slingerland, Professor of Philosophy and author of Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization
"With a knack for showing how 'strange' behaviors are closer to home than we realize, Xygalatas masterfully explains how what binds us to other human beings are our most mysterious activities — rituals."
—Jesse Bering, Professor of Science Communication at the University of Otago and author of Suicidal
"Xygalatas' account of how our tendency to conduct weird routines can make us feel better individually or as part of a group is a thoroughly satisfying scientific detective story. His evidence may be culled from around the world but the lessons apply to all of us."
"An elegantly simple and deeply persuasive argument which generalises to other forms of delusional belief."
—Mark Solms, author of The Hidden Spring: A Journey to the Source of Consciousness