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Niceness as a Scalpel


Society & Culture  (tags: interesting, evolution, slugs, humans, wildlife, research, science )

Dave
- 1908 days ago - radiolab.org
In this episode, a question that haunted Charles Darwin: if natural selection boils down to survival of the fittest, how do you explain why one creature might stick its neck out for another?



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Dave Kane (308)
Monday April 4, 2011, 6:19 pm
In this episode, a question that haunted Charles Darwin: if natural selection boils down to survival of the fittest, how do you explain why one creature might stick its neck out for another?

The standard view of evolution is that living things are shaped by cold-hearted competition. And there is no doubt that today's plants and animals carry the genetic legacy of ancestors who fought fiercely to survive and reproduce. But in this hour, we wonder whether there might also be a logic behind sharing, niceness, kindness ... or even, self-sacrifice. Is altruism an aberration, or just an elaborate guise for sneaky self-interest? Do we really live in a selfish, dog-eat-dog world? Or has evolution carved out a hidden code that rewards genuine cooperation?

Listen to the whole show -- what a strange, interesting character. A genius no doubt, but not scared of his own conclusions. Had the strength of his own beliefs. Even if the last one was tragic.
 

Dave Kane (308)
Monday April 4, 2011, 6:38 pm
There are three, maybe four stories here -- this is another one:

Is there such a thing as a purely selfless deed--one with no hidden motives whatsoever? Walter F. Rutkowski from the Carnegie Hero Fund spends his days measuring good deeds by some very stringent criteria--such as risking your life "to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the life of another person." We got in touch with three of these bona fide heroes to ask what went through their minds the moment they leapt into action. The heroes: Lora Shrake (who squared off with a 950-pound bull); Bill Pennell (who repeatedly dove into a burning car for survivors); and Wesley Autrey (who jumped in front of a subway train to save a fellow rider).

 
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