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Deconstructing consumerism

Book Review: 'Spent: Sex, Evolution and Consumer Behavior'

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Book Review Title: 'Spent: Sex, Evolution and Consumer Behavior' Author: Geoffrey Miller Publisher: Viking, 2009; 384 pages; $26.95 list ($17.79 on Amazon.com) The old marketing adage "sex sells" is to "Spent: Sex, Evolution and Consumer Behavior" as your uncle's old 35-millimeter vacation movies are to YouTube.Rather than looking at how "consumerist capitalism" has evolved over the last few hundred years, "Spent" author Geoffrey Miller zooms way out historically speaking, analyzing the often-detrimental buying behaviors of modern Americans -- from the purchase of a Hummer to the purchase of a McMansion -- from the perspective of Cro-Magnon man (and woman). At the outset, "Spent" sets forth its basic premise: Modern consumer buying behavior is driven primarily by the age-old instinct to display our fitness for survival to others. Miller posits that this instinct has (barely) evolved since prehistoric times into con...